Ridgeland

Contraband thrown over fence causes inmate commotion at Ridgeland correctional facility

1 guard, 1 inmate suffer minor injuries

astice@islandpacket.comJune 4, 2013 

A package of contraband that was thrown over a fence at the Ridgeland Correctional Institution late Monday triggered a five-hour inmate uproar, according to S.C. Department of Corrections officials.

One officer was cut, and one inmate was slightly injured by a tear gas canister, however, there were no major injuries, spokesman Clark Newsom said.

The commotion started when an inmate got out of his cell to retrieve the contraband from an area near a fence between 10:30 and 11 p.m., according to Newsom. Officials have not said what was in the package.

The prisoner was spotted and immediately arrested by two officers on duty, Newsom said. However, a scuffle started between the officers and the inmate, and the other 123 inmates in the Beaufort A wing of the all-male facility somehow got out of their cells and "got a little rowdy," Newsom said.

The institution went into lockdown to prevent escapes, while the jail's Rapid Response Team arrived and used tear gas to break up the commotion.

By about 4 a.m., all the inmates were back in their cells. Newsom said it is unclear how they got out, but it may have been during a time when they were allowed to be in and out of their cells. An investigation is underway, he said.

The scuffle was contained to the wing, and the public was never in danger because the jail had been secured from the outside, Newsom said.

The lockdown continues as investigators try to determine what happened, search cells and shake down inmates for contraband.

"That's an ongoing problem we have at all of our jails -- people trying to get contraband inside," Newsom said.

The Ridgeland Correctional Institution is a level-two -security prison off of U.S. 17.

Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/IPBG_Allison.

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