by: Paul Boyd Updated:
COLUMBIA, S.C. - A video was sent anonymously to Channel 9 from inside the Turbeville Correctional Institute, 60 miles east of Columbia, South Carolina.
According to the sender, the video documents a brutal and violent attempted murder this week at the prison.
The man in charge of South Carolina prisons told Channel 9 the attack is under investigation but confirmed the inmate in the video survived what can only be described as attempted murder.
Executive Director Bryan Stirling said the Department of Corrections is still trying to fill 586 open jobs for front-line correctional officers.
Stirling emphasized he's working hard to address the employee shortage.
"We're doing everything we can to try to hire as many people as we can,” Stirling said. “I've also gone to the General Assembly and asked for millions of dollars and I'm going to ask for more to get raises for our officers, to get more officers in. But it's not going to happen overnight."
South Carolina Department of Corrections told Channel 9 there were 138 serious "inmate on inmate" assaults last fiscal year and two inmate deaths because of attacks during that same period.
In the video, the inmate recording clearly knows an attack is about to happen. His contraband camera is recording as an inmate repeatedly plunges a knife into another prisoner. Another inmate joins the attack seconds later and the victim tries to run, but is quickly tackled and the stabbing continues.
Finally, the victim jumps down one story to escape but needs to fight off another attacker before running out of camera view.
There are no guards in sight throughout the two-minute video. In total, the inmate is stabbed at least 20 times in the span of 35 seconds.
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Attorney Edward Bell recently filed five federal lawsuits against the South Carolina Department of Corrections and said five more complaints will be filed in coming weeks. Bell represents more than 100 inmates he said were attacked in a similar fashion while under the supervision of the state.
"I think we're on the verge of a total meltdown in some of our prisons in South Carolina," Bell told Channel 9. "The lawlessness that's going on in those prisons is unfathomable."
The lawsuits said South Carolina has violated the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment, which is supposed to protect prisoners from cruel and unusual punishment.
"You should not be sent to prison and then have to fight for your life because you're in there paying your time," Bell said. "They shouldn't be killed while they're in prison trying to get their life back in order. This is a horrible stain on our society."
South Carolina's Department of Corrections was unavailable to comment on Friday, but the executive director has told WSOC-TV in previous interviews they work every day to fight gang activity at the root of the problem. Officials also said they are trying to hire more correctional officers, but admit recruiting for the dangerous job is a challenge.
Bell said he's been told South Carolina prisons are understaffed by upwards of 900 correctional officers.
"I don't know what the state's going to do, but they're going to have to call in support and help. This is out of control," Bell said.
There has not been any official word from the Department of Corrections as to the punishment of those inmates.
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