As an investigation into how seven inmates were killed at Lee Correctional Institution on Sunday night, data shows deaths inside South Carolina prisons are on the rise.
Last year, 12 inmates were killed in South Carolina prisons. Four prisoners were strangled at Kirkland Correctional by two inmates in April 2017.
Five inmates were killed by other inmates in 2016, while three were killed in 2015. In the first four months of 2018, at least eight inmates have been killed at Lee Correctional Institution.
Although S.C. Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling stated they were not understaffed at Lee Correctional at the time the fights started, he has repeatedly stated that lack of funding for officer pay continues to hinder the amount of officers they can hire and how much they can pay.
Senator Karl Allen who serves on the Corrections Committee states it’s not a funding issue, but a morale issue.
“It is not just a money issue, it a training issue, it a staffing issue, money will fix some of those things not all of them,” Allen said.
Allen states he learned about the morale issues while visiting prisons following the deadly attack at Kirkland last year and expects to follow up on their investigation after this latest riot at Lee.
“That is a lot of deaths, that is a lot of smoke and where there is this much smoke there is fire and we need to put out the fire,” Allen said.