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Inmates families question why some SC prisons still on lockdown following deadly riot

(WPDE)

Some inmates' families are very worried that some prisons are still on lockdown about 10 weeks after a deadly riot at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville where seven inmates were killed and 22 others badly hurt.

A few families asked to look into why the lockdowns are still in place at some institutions.

South Carolina Department of Corrections Communications Director Jeffrey M. Taillon released the following statement about the lockdowns:

"In response to your inquiry, lockdown has been fully lifted at some institutions and partially at others. The lockdown will be lifted statewide when we deem it appropriate."

Jackie Baker of Bennettsville is one of the people who contacted us to look into the situation.

Her son is serving five years at Turbeville Correctional Institution in Clarendon County for theft.

Baker hasn't heard from her son in 10 weeks.

Inmates can't make calls or have visits when a prison is on lockdown.

"My heart is broken, because I can't talk to my son. I can't hear his voice, him telling me, 'Mama, I'm OK,' that's all I got to go on. That's all I got to go on is that phone call that I look forward to. And it's been 10 weeks. It's been 10 weeks and nothing," said Baker.

Baker said an inmate called her last week from a cell phone saying her son had been stabbed.

"That tears me up inside. I don't know if my son still alive. I don't know if he's OK, I don't know if he's in the hospital, I don't know nothing. I don't know anything. I just sit out here and worry and stay by the phone," explained Baker.

She said she's called prison officials, but keeps getting the runaround.

"They don't care if we sit out here and worry. They don't care we know if our love ones are still alive. I don't even know that my son is still alive, because I haven't talked with him in so long. I know they're in prison because they're being punished, but they're punishing us out here. And they are right, no sense in it. I ain't done nothing wrong. I ain't done nothing wrong. I just need to hear from my son," said Baker.

We asked state prison officials about Baker's son and they gave us numbers to give to Baker to call.

Meanwhile, some other families said during this lockdown, inmates are stuck inside jail cells that are excruciatingly hot.

One woman said her brother is in prison at Kershaw Correctional Institution.

She said his jail cell and entire building have no air conditioning.

Taillon said, "Most SCDC facilities have air conditioning; some facilities were built without air conditioning. The facilities without air conditioning have other methods to control the temperature (fans, etc.)."

We will let you know when the remaining prison lockdowns are lifted.

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