He said most of the inmates are affiliated with gangs.
According to The State newspaper, the number of inmates killed in South Carolina's prisons more than doubled in 2017 from the previous year. Police services from the corrections department and SLED are investigating the deadly fight.
Stirling was appointed by then-Gov. Fewer staff leads to inmates being locked up in their cells for longer hours, and that in turn exacerbates nascent mental health problems that are already so rampant that advocates have dubbed USA prisons the "new asylums".
Seven inmates died during hours of rioting that began Sunday evening. Officials said they "gathered a force that is safe" before sending officers into a dorm, which each house about 250 inmates.
Since the start of 2017, at least 20 inmates in SC have been killed by other prisoners, AP reported.
Prison guards at the all-male Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopsville, South Carolina, spent eight hours tackling the mass-brawl, which spread across three accommodation units.
County Coroner Larry Logan says it appears numerous seven inmates killed died of stabbing and slashing wounds. Thomas was with Rivera and other men when they broke into a home and demanded money on Aug 30, 2012.
The names of those killed were released this morning, per The State. Guards, none of whom were injured, didn't fully secure the prison until close to 3am. No employees were hurt.
They said the clashes left seven prisoners dead and 17 "requiring medical attention".
The first incident was reported about 7:15 p.m. on Sunday, according to the South Carolina State Department of Corrections.
No prison officers were wounded, it added.
In a Monday news conference, Stirling defended the state's efforts to increase correctional officers' pay and thanked the legislature and the governor for increasing their funding in recent years.
This institution is one of the state's highest-secured prisons, a level three facility, holding some of the most unsafe prisoners of SC.
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