By Lena Mercer
At about 9 p.m. Sunday night, law enforcement vehicles were staged at the entrance to McCormick Correctional Institution in South Carolina according to reporting by local News Channel 6. An hour later, local media outlets as well as prisoner-run social media accounts were reporting a possible escape and hostage situation at the facility in McCormick, South Carolina.
As of Monday morning, prison officials are reporting that 5 prisoners were captured near the prison yard fence after an apparent attempt to escape. One prison guard was locked in a cell by prisoners during the incident. Two prisoners were transported to a local hospital with reportedly non-life-threatening injuries.
Although the details of the incident are currently unknown, on Sunday night a prisoner-run social media account posted that the F3 unit at McCormick had been “taken over completely.”
The exact spark that ignited this situation is currently unclear. But issues inside the SCDOC have been increasing in the last few months. In late August and early September a string of prisoner deaths was attributed to COVID-19. And as recently as November 3, a high profile murder was reported inside the facility.
The last few years have seen significant inside/outside organizing to address conditions at South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDOC) facilities. In 2017 the McCormick facility came to national attention as prisoners reported three straight days without potable water and deplorable conditions. According to prisoners, those conditions were intentionally created by prison staff in an attempt to stir internal violence.
In 2017, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak broke the story that prison officials had sealed the windows to the F3 unit, the site of last night’s disturbance, with metal sheets, blocking all natural light.