Twelve inmates claimed they were kept in cells filled with raw sewage for hours after a toilet backup caused the waste to spew out onto the floor.
The State newspaper confirmed with a South Carolina Department of Corrections spokesman that six cells in the Lieber Correctional Institution’s “Ashley” unit were flooded with the toilet water on Dec. 16. Videos posted online after the incident show floors flooded with fecal matter, which flowed out into the dorm’s common area.
The spokesman said other inmates caused the backup by putting clothing into the toilet bowl and repeatedly flushing. Spokesman Dexter Lee said Lieber staff did not have the equipment to properly unclog the toilets and had to wait for a crew from Columbia to make the nearly two-hour drive to Ridgeville.
Lee said the inmates were given supplies to clean their cells, including a more thorough clean afterwards.
While the spokesman said the water was shut off as soon as prison officials realized what was happening, inmates heard speaking in the videos said the toilets continued to spew for about 12 hours before crews fixed the issue.
The Corrections Department has often struggled to maintain order in its facilities amid low staffing and an increased concentration of violent inmates due to consolidation.