Video: Fracas after plumbing backs up toilets in SC jail

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

By Emily Bohatch
The State 

COLUMBIA, SC Twelve South Carolina inmates were left in cells for hours after a backup spewed raw sewage from prison toilets, an SCDC spokesman confirmed to The State.

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 backflowing 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.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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