Authorities responding to situation at Lee Correctional Institution

TUESDAY FEB. 9 2016

Local fire and rescue officials said that they were responding to a "mass casualty incident" Monday morning at the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, which serves as a state prison for men.

Seven inmates have died and 17 others required outside medical attention after hours of fighting inside a maximum security prison in SC.

The inmate says the prison is understaffed, something that SCDC has confirmed. The official cause of death will not be determined until after the autopsies.

Lee Correctional Institution has had inmate issues in the past.

No officers or staff members were among those killed or harmed, the department added. The agency has also made efforts to reduce the amount of time an officer can expect to wait before receiving a pay raise, and has streamlined the job application associated with the work.

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"There's nothing here for us to do", the inmate said. The prison in Bishopville, S.C., about 60 miles northeast of Columbia, houses about 1,600 male inmates.

He said he believes that inmates using cellphones may have played a role in what happened, adding that violence started in one dorm, but soon inmates in other dorms found out about it.

"It's not a SC problem, it is a national problem", Stirling said.

In a press conference on Monday, Stirling said the altercation appeared to stem from gang-related conflict over territory, contraband and cell phones.

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