Lee Correctional Institution secure after inmates overpowered an officer and took control of a dorm

BISHOPVILLE, SC (WIS) - The South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) is reporting that inmates overpowered a corrections officer and took control of one side of a dorm at Lee Correctional Institution and held the officer hostage for roughly an hour and a half.

SCDC says the dorm officer has since been seen by medical staff and, despite minor injuries, has been released.

The overpowered officer had his keys taken and the inmates began releasing other inmates, according to SCDC Prison Director Bryan Stirling.

No demands were made during the process of getting inmates back into their cells.

Dexter Lee, Communications Officer with SCDC, confirmed that an incident was taking place, but was isolated to one unit. Lee said that all staff are safe and accounted for and there is no threat to public safety.

SC State Senator Karl Allen (D-Greenville) serves on the Corrections and Penology Committee and responded to the situation, saying that additional assistance was requested.

"All that they're putting out now ... is that it happened in a Level 3 institution," Allen said. "A disturbance in a dorm where there are 92 inmates. They are trying to determine how many of them are involved by getting them back in the dorm. All of the staff for that dorm is accounted for. From there, they're not really saying. They're not letting us know if there are any injuries. They are saying they're going to assess that once they get all of the inmates back in the dorm."

WIS reached out to LCI and a prison official that answered the phone said that reports of the prison being on lockdown was accurate, but could not elaborate further saying they needed the phone line as they were in the middle of "negotiations" with inmates and deferred to a public information officer.

"My understanding is that they're pretty much trying to negotiate to get them back into the individual cells so that they can assess ... the inmates to see if there were any injuries to them," Allen said. "That's what's going on at the moment. They do have all of the inmates confined to that dorm. The problem is getting them back into their cells."

The entire incident remains under investigation by SCDC.

WIS News 10 will update this story as more information becomes available.

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