Lee County, S.C. (WPDE) — State Representative Justin Bamberg (D) out of Bamberg, Barnwell and Colleton Counties shared cell phone video with us sent to him by an inmate showing about 30 seconds of some of what happened Sunday night during a deadly riot that left seven inmates dead and 22 others badly hurt at Lee Correctional Institution in Lee County.
The video shows an inmate walking around with a shank or homemade knife.
He approaches a bloody inmate sitting on the floor, but they both eventually walk away.
Bamberg said he released the video because it gives the public better insight as to what's happening in our state's prisons.
"That's one reason why I put that video out. Because, none of these guys were stabbed with a cell phone. I'm not saying that cell phones were okay. Contraband and the rules need to be followed. But at the same time, it's misleading. And they're using this to pad a political agenda to get the FCC to block cell phone signals," said Bamberg.
He added, Governor Henry McMaster and South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) Director Bryan Stirling are quick to say the main problem in our state prisons are cell phones, but he said they're not the only problems.
"I think it's problematic that they did not even mention the weapon issue. Some of those shanks were over six inches long and over two inches wide. How is it that a weapon that big wasn't found? There are a whole bunch of problems," said Bamberg.
He also has concerns about inmates being able to easily get inside the cells of other inmates.
"One of these gentleman that was killed in this prison. He wasn't, according to the information that I've been given, he wasn't actually involved in fighting anybody or anything like that. And they got his cell open and they murdered him execution style, along with the other person in the cell with him."
Bamberg said our state prison system is underfunded.
"SCDC is underfunded. I mean, the State of South Carolina is failing in many regards. One of which , there is no money. And I've said this time and time again, the state of South Carolina is broke. What I mean by that is the annual expenditures, the money that we have to spend to do everything that needs to be done in this state. Exceeds the revenue that the state has, by millions and millions and millions of dollars."
Many inmates' relatives said the state needs to find the funding to hire more correctional officers.
SCDC officials said they're down about 600 correctional officers, but they're hiring more officers everyday.
They said it'll take time to get fully staffed.
The investigation into the deadly riots at Lee Correctional Center is ongoing.