Inmates and a corrections officer were injured during a brawl in McCormick County. (WRDW-TV / June 21, 2012)
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, June 21, 2012
MCCORMICK COUNTY, S.C. -- Four inmates and a corrections officer are all recovering after a prison brawl turned violent on Wednesday night at the McCormick County Correctional Institution.
Authorities say several inmates used homemade knives to stab each other.
SC Department of Corrections Communications Director Clark Newsom says 10 to 15 prisoners got into a fight in the facility yard after dinner. A handful of prisoners were treated for cuts and bruises on site, and four were treated for stab wounds. One officer, who was trying to break up the fight, was taken to the hospital for stitches.
Newsom now says gang activity may be to blame.
"You're dealing with inmates that are in there seven days a week, 24 hours a day and always coming up with ideas of some way to get out. Gangs are a problem in the outside world, and they are a problem in prisons, too."
Two inmates and the corrections officer were taken to a hospital in Greenwood with minor injuries. Two other prisoners were flown to GHSU in Augusta with life-threatening injuries.
The prison will be on lockdown through this weekend.
"We were able to get them under control and back into their cells fairly quickly," Newsom said.
The McCormick County Correctional Institution is a maximum security facility and houses more than 1,200 inmates every day. We're told state staff swept cells Wednesday night to search for more contraband.
Newsom says they found nine additional homemade knives and three cell phones, all considered contraband in the prison system.
"They do get a certain amount of contraband that's thrown over the fence. Some of it is smuggled in, sometimes it's fashioned out of things they can get. You would be surprised what they can do to make it sharp enough to cut somebody actually," he said.
After the investigation is complete any prisoners who were involved could be charged, transferred to another facility, or stripped of certain privileges while incarcerated.
"There was really no time when the community was at risk. We had the perimeter covered with our own officers, our own people. That kept the situation from getting out of hand or getting worse," Newsom said.