South Carolina

Greenville County prison on lockdown

File Photo: Perry Correctional Institution in Greenville County
File Photo: Perry Correctional Institution in Greenville County The Greenville News

A maximum security prison in southern Greenville County remained under lockdown Saturday after a group of inmates refused to return to their cells Friday night.

The incident at Perry Correctional Institution in Pelzer triggered a prison-wide lockdown that will likely last until Sunday, said state Sen. Karl Allen of Greenville.

Allen, a member of the Senate Corrections and Penology Committee, said officers had regained control of the dorm Saturday and that all inmates were back in their cells.

The lockdown was a “precautionary measure,” said Dexter Lee, spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

Due to staff shortages, lockdowns have been a constant at the facility, with inmates were being confined to their cells from 6 p.m. until morning.

“These guys — as I best understand — didn’t want to be locked down," Allen said. "They knew that if they went back in, they would be locked down until the next day."

Lockdowns interrupt prison programs, including visitation, and are dreaded by inmates.

The forced lockdowns at Perry Correctional were what led to a riot at the facility earlier this year in which an officer was beaten and taken hostage by inmates. The April 11 incident touched off a five-hour ordeal as law enforcement officers flooded the prison to regain control.

Allen said state legislators have since increased the prison system's budget by $8 million to raise the salary range for correctional officers, which should help with retention.

"We’re working on that, but we’re not there yet," he said.

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