Seven prisoners have been killed and at least 17 others injured in a riot at a maximum security prison in the USA state of SC, officials say.
The state has about 5000 prison employees in 22 institutions, but "security staff numbers continue to lag behind the authorised strength", the department's fiscal 2017 Accountability Report said, without giving numbers.
According to prison authorities, the fights were initiated by inmates who ended up killing some and hurting others. The department had initially described the riot as an "ongoing incident", only revealing the scope of the problem hours after its start at 7:15 pm Sunday. It said that the incident played out over three housing units.
Violence erupted at the prison facility on Sunday evening and was brought under control in the early hours of Monday.
"We ... went in as soon as we thought it was safe for our staff", he said.
"The folks who are incarcerated are gonna continue their criminal ways behind bars, which is not only risky inside our institutions, but it's also unsafe outside our institutions", Stirling said.
It was the deadliest USA prison riot since 1993, when nine inmates and one corrections officer died at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, said Steve Martin, a prisons expert and now the federal monitor for the consent decree involving New York City's Rikers Island jail complex.
Raymond Scott, 28, who was serving a 20-year sentence for crimes including assault and battery. Of late, inmates at this facility resorted to violence multiple times.
Complaints against the prison have been mounting in recent years.
Stirling told Monk that the trend can be partly attributed to an increase in inmates obtaining cellphones, chronic understaffing, gang rivalries and a higher ratio of violent prisoners to nonviolent ones.
In a meeting next month, the department plans to discuss solutions with the Federal Communications Commission.
"Through these contraband cellphones that the FCC will not allow us to block, they're able to conduct their criminal enterprises", Gov. Henry McMaster said.
In February, inmate Robert Odell Brown was killed by another inmate at Lee Correctional Institution. "It's not a surprise when wer have violent events take place inside the prison, any prison in the country", McMaster said.
According to the New York Times, for years lawmakers pledged to make South Carolina's prisons safer, especially Lee Correctional, but apparently, those pledges haven't resulted in positive safety changes.