In­mates dined in cells amid sewage

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - News - BY EMILY BOHATCH ebo­[email protected]­ Emily Bohatch: 803-771-8664, @emily­bo­hatch

Twelve South Carolina in­mates were left in cells for hours after a backup spewed raw sewage from prison toi­lets, a South Carolina De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tions spokesman con­firmed to The State news­pa­per.

Six cells in the Ash­ley unit of Lieber Cor­rec­tional In­sti­tu­tion flooded with the toi­let wa­ter on Dec. 16, SCDC spokesman Dex­ter Lee said.

Videos that cir­cu­lated after the in­ci­dent show floors flooded with fe­cal mat­ter, which spilled onto the dorm’s com­mon area. In­mates in the videos said the toi­lets con­tin­ued to spew the ran­cid, toxic sub­stances for about 12 hours be­fore SCDC crews fixed the is­sue.

“This is dis­gust­ing. De­hu­man­iz­ing. It’s all over the floor,” an in­mate said in a video.

The cor­rec­tions de­part­ment said the wa­ter was turned off after the backup was re­ported, and in­mates were im­me­di­ately given sup­plies to clean their cells. Later, when the prob­lem was fixed, in­mates were given an op­por­tu­nity to do a more thor­ough clean­ing, the de­part­ment said.

In two videos, in­mates said toi­lets had been back-flow­ing for about 12 hours. At about 6:30 p.m., fe­ces were still scat­tered across the floor, and they strug­gled to clean it, they said in one of the two videos.

Lee said the backup hap­pened after in­mates in other cells placed cloth­ing in the toi­let and con­tin­u­ally flushed. Crews based lo­cally at Lieber did not have the equip­ment to deal with the is­sue, so staff and in­mates alike had to wait un­til a crew from Columbia was able to re­spond to the Ridgeville prison.

Lieber has been un­der lock­down since a riot at Lee Cor­rec­tional In­sti­tu­tion in April killed seven in­mates.

In­mates were left wait­ing for 12 hours to stop the flow of the sewage, ac­cord­ing to an in­mate in the video. SCDC de­clined to spec­ify the amount of time in­mates waited for the prob­lem to be fixed.

Dur­ing that time, in­mates were served their two Sun­day meals — brunch and din­ner — Lee said. While they were be­ing served, there was a layer of sewage on the floor, in­mates said in the video.

Lieber is lo­cated in Ridgeville, which is north­west of Sum­merville and about 85 miles from down­town Columbia

Dur­ing the en­tire or­deal, in­mates re­mained in the cells, Lee said.

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