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Inmates: Some South Carolina prisons locked down 8 months

December 21, 2018

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Some inmates in South Carolina say that their prisons still are on lockdown eight months after a riot that killed seven inmates.

More than two dozen inmates have written to The State newspaper about the lockdowns, describing restrictive practices such as often being denied showers or being held in their cells 24 hours a day, the newspaper reported on Thursday.

“I have not been outside or seen the sun in six months. Hundreds of inmates are being punished for nothing,” an inmate in a prison in central South Carolina wrote to The State in October.

The inmate said in a follow-up letter that the situation had not changed, two months later. In communications with the paper, inmates have described not being allowed to go outside or shower regularly.

“Seven months living in filth,” an inmate said in November. “Straight inhumane and no one on the street will give us no help.”

That inmate and more than two dozen others who contacted the paper requested anonymity due to concerns about personal safety.

According to the state Department of Corrections, dorms in eight of the agency’s 21 prisons have been on lockdown in the eight months since an April riot at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville left seven inmates dead.

The department has partially blamed understaffing for the lengthy lockdowns but said that inmates are allowed out of their cells at times.

In a federal lawsuit filed against Corrections Director Bryan Stirling, an inmate said that he and others were denied recreational time outside of the cell. The American Civil Liberties Union has also voiced concerns about the practices.

Asked about the lockdowns, Corrections spokesman Dexter Lee told the paper, “We have continued to take the necessary critical security measures relating to contraband and gang violence.”

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This story has been corrected to remove the reference to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. The group in September did call for the lockdown to end, but did not sue.

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Information from: The State, http://www.thestate.com

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Information from: The State, http://www.thestate.com

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