SC prison system seeks approval of $6 million settlement over Lee Correctional riot

South Carolina Department of Corrections seeks approval for $6 million to settle with victims and their families of 2018 Lee Correctional Institution prison riot.According to documents on the Authority's website, Corrections has asked the State Fiscal Accountability Authority for approval of the settlement. The settlement will end more than 80 lawsuits filed after the riot which left seven people dead and over a dozen others injured.The settlement will be discussed by the SFAA at its Tuesday morning meeting.Monday afternoon, a spokesperson from the Department of Corrections could not be reached for comment.This settlement request comes three years after the riot that was called the worst prison riot in American history.The victims were identified as Eddie Gaskins and Joshua Jenkins, Cornelius McClary; Cornelius McClary; Damonte Rivera; Raymond Scott, and Corey Scott. Fighting lasted approximately eight hours.The Department of Corrections was the target of numerous lawsuits shortly after the riot. These lawsuits painted a grim picture of the events that took place as the riot spread. After being stabbed, inmates described lying helpless for hours and calling for help. Inmates described trying to barricade their cells with doors that didn't lock. They said that some inmates had climbed over razor wire fences to escape their attackers.After lawsuit after lawsuit, a picture emerged of a dangerously understaffed prison with grave infrastructure issues that resulted in the deaths of prisoners.Corrections officials were quick to point fingers at cell phones after the riot.These people are fighting for real money and real land while they're in prison, Bryan Stirling, the prisons director, said on the day following the riot. Officials suspect that cellphones were used by officials to notify inmates in the second or third dorms of a fight in the first.However, months later, the former deputy prison director claimed that there were warning signs before the riot and that staff members warned higher-ups but were ignored.Continue the storyNothing was being done and I can assure you that it was not reported to me, my staff, or my regional directors. Former Deputy Director Michael McCall stated that this was the case. McCall met regularly with wardens to monitor activity in prisons throughout the state. McCall should have raised alarm when they learned from employees that these prisoners were making tons and tons of shanks.Former warden of the prison pointed out chronic understaffing and excessive crowding in the prison due to a large transfer of prisoners shortly before the riot. The former warden claimed that he was forced out of his department to cover up errors, negligence, and mistakes made by the SCDC command structure which led to the April 2018 riot.Prosecutors later stated that the riot was gang-instigated and began over stolen contraband.Officials from the Department of Corrections completed their investigation about one year after it occurred.29 inmates were arrested in December 2020 for their participation in the riot. Three of them were also charged with murder. There were more than 70 charges against them, including 21 charges for conspiracy, 19 assault and battery by mob second-degree where death results and four assault and battery resulting bodily injury charges.