GRAPHIC: SC lawmaker releases video from inside Lee Correctional Institution during deadly riot
BISHOPVILLE, SC (WIS) - WARNING: The above video is extremely graphic and may be disturbing to some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.
South Carolina lawmaker has released a video from inside Lee Correctional Institution the night of the prison riots that left seven dead and left 22 other inmates injured.
Rep. Justin Bamberg (D-District 90) released the video on behalf of an anonymous inmate at Lee Correctional Institution, who was inside one of the prison dorms on April 15.
The video shows an inmate sitting up against one of the dorm walls and he is injured. Blood is also seen all over the prison dorm floor. Bamberg released the video as a statement against the emergency response time during the incident. The video also shows two men walking around with the weapons. The injured inmate did stand up and walk away before the video ends.
Bamberg said he was shocked when he first saw the video, which he says was filmed after the incident "had calmed down."
"How is it that they have these knives that are over six inches long?" Bamberg said. "I want to know where that's being hidden. Where in a maximum security prison can you hide a knife that big and it not be found?"
Bamberg said he took a call from an inmate's mother who claimed her son and several other inmates attempted to keep a cell door closed from others attempting to stab them.
"I have never seen a cell phone or a bag of marijuana or cigarettes stab anybody," Bamberg said. "We're not saying that cell phones are OK. They are contraband and the rules say you're not supposed to have them in there. But, we can't focus only on that when you've got a much bigger problem which is seven people who were murdered with weapons that weren't supposed to be in a maximum security prison or any prison anyway."
Bamberg said supporters of the Second Amendment should also support the Eighth Amendment when it comes to the rights of prisoners. The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
During a press conference on Monday, South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said before authorities can enter the dorm during a riot situation, it's imperative to have proper staffing to handle the 250 to 260 inmates inside each dorm.
"We're not going to just send one or two officers in there," Stirling said. "We're going to gather a force that is safe for all our officers...We're not going to put our officers and other staff in harm's way. We gathered as many people as we could as quickly as we could."
The riots at Lee Correctional continues the reputation of prisons in South Carolina as some of the most dangerous in the nation. In the last 16 months, 20 South Carolina inmates have been killed while incarcerated, according to the Associated Press. There are 19,000 inmates in 21 prisons in South Carolina.
The state Department of Corrections also identified the inmates as Raymond Angelo Scott, Michael Milledge, Damonte Marquez Rivera, Eddie Casey Jay Gaskins, Joshua Svwin Jenkins, Corey Scott, and Cornelius Quantral McClary.
In the last 9 months, 10 inmates including the seven killed on Sunday all died at Lee Correctional.
"These folks are fighting over real money and real territory while they are incarcerated," Stirling said."And you've heard us talking about it over and over again. These folks are fighting over real money and real territory while they are incarcerated."
Stirling did not release the type of weapon used in these incidents and said that information is a part of their investigation. He also spoke about the photos and videos circulating on social media that claim to document the incident inside the dorms where bodies were shown. Stirling said he could not verify the authenticity of the videos.
The number of inmates injured increased from 17 to 22 on Tuesday. SC DOC officials told the Associated Press that three of the inmates were not included in the original count were taken offside and treated for minor injuries before being released back to the prison. In all, six inmates remain hospitalized and the others have been released back to the state's Department of Corrections.
Bamberg said he believes that SC DOC may need to be reviewed by the SC House's Oversight Committee in the future.
"We're past the point of lip service. We're past the point of excuses," Bamberg said. "There are a bunch of mothers who have to bury their sons and they shouldn't have to be in the position to do that."
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