Seven prisoners at the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, South Carolina are dead following what is being described as a mass brawl. Seventeen were also injured following the melee that began around 7:15 pm Sunday night, and the facility was not secured until around eight hours later according to reports from Buzzfeed.

The South Carolina Department of Corrections identified the victims on Monday as Raymond Angelo Scott, Michael Milliedge, Damonte Marquez Rivera, Eddie Casey Jay Gaskins, Joshua Svwin Jenkins, Corey Scott, and Cornelius Quantral McClary.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster called the deaths “unfortunate” before giving a statement: “There’s an enormous effort made to be sure these kinds of things do not happen, or are kept at a minimum,” he continued. “It is unfortunate when they do happen, but this is one of those instances when they did.”

Bryan Stirling, the Director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, says the delayed response by officers is because the prison is understaffed and he wanted to assemble a force that would be sufficient to put down the threat. Officers did not step onto the floor until 11:30 pm, which is about four hours after the initial call to the response team was reported to have occurred.

Lee Correctional Instutute has seen a number of violent brawls and disturbances. Just three weeks ago there was a wing of the prison taken over by inmates for a little over an hour after they overpowered a guard. Stribling says that the inmates are fighting over actual money and territory while incarcerated and blames the influx of contraband cell phones for the rise of violence as he expressed a desire for the FCC to block signals of the contraband phones while they are in the prison.

McMaster, however blames the prisoners themselves and the nature of violent criminals as he told the media: “These people in this prison, many of them have very violent records, and we cannot expect them to give up their violent ways when they go to prison,” McMaster said. “We do the very best we can to see that these things do not happen. We try to minimize them and learn from them every time.”

But many activists and commentators aren’t buying it, drawing attention to the violent conditions of prisons that breed more violence:

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