South Carolina prison officials say a fight broke out at a maximum-security facility in Bishopville over the weekend. Department of Corrections spokesman Clark Newsom said the fight at Lee Correctional Institute began Saturday after some inmates tried to grab contraband items thrown over the prison’s fence.
He said an investigations unit is still finishing its report. Newsom said he does not yet know how many inmates were involved, but said it was less than the 40 reported in early accounts. According to prison officials, one of the inmates had planned the “throw-over,” but several others found out. A fight then broke out over the smuggled goods.
Newsom said one officer was “hit in the head” while breaking up the fight, but said the officer was not seriously hurt. He said riot units eventually had to use tear gas to restore order.
Corrections officials have struggled to stop those on the outside from smuggling cell phones, drugs, and cigarettes into prisons by throwing them over the fence.
“We don’t have officers on duty on the wall at every corner of the prison,” Newsom said, “We just don’t have the manpower for that. We rotate around the prison in a roving vehicle at least once every hour. But, if anybody’s watching from the outside, they’ll know what the schedule is.”
He said prison officials have begun working with local law enforcement to better patrol the outside fences.