Punishment light for inmate killers as prison violence rises

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A review by The Associated Press has found prisoners who kill other prisoners behind bars in South Carolina often face little additional punishment.

The AP used an open records request to gather data on South Carolina prison homicides since 1997, then reviewed court records and its own news archive to learn the outcomes.

Prosecutors won convictions in 18 of 26 closed cases involving the deaths of inmates at the hands of fellow prisoners in the past 20 years. More than half of the 18 convicted inmates got sentences of 20 years or less.

Now, as prosecutors and investigators sift through evidence from at least 20 new prison slayings since 2017, they face a persistent challenge: It’s hard to find a deterrent when the prison killers are already serving lengthy sentences.

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