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Locked Up and Out of Control: Understanding the Causes and Consequences of Prison Brawls

A recent violent incident occurred at the Richmond County jail in Augusta, resulting in seven inmates being injured with shanks. The fight broke out in the B-block of the G-pod just before breakfast when several inmates began to argue. DeQuinn Hamlin, who is currently incarcerated for a murder charge, pulled out a shank and stabbed Madison Lewis, who is awaiting trial for armed robbery. This attack instigated a larger fight within one of the most dangerous wings of the Charles B. Webster Detention Center. Nine men have been charged with new offences in connection to the incident.

The occurrence comes as several jailers have been arrested for bringing in contraband or assaulting inmates. The incident highlights the existing issues at the facility, which Sheriff Richard Roundtree has previously referred to as an emergency situation.

The identity of those who participated in the brawl, including those injured and involved in the fight, has been released by the sheriff’s report. The report states that Michael Mitchell was seen holding a shank and approached Stephen Anderson and Madison Lewis while they were being beaten and stabbed. Mitchell kicked both Anderson and Lewis and kept other inmates from intervening while his co-defendants stabbed and beat them. Roger Fielding, in jail for weapon and obstruction charges, fled out of the camera view while pulling a shank from his jumpsuit. Fielding was observed stabbing Dezmin Freeman multiple times. Tony Landers was seen stabbing both Jeremiah Kelly and Dezmin Freeman.

Anquavius Hill held down Jeremiah Kelly while other inmates were stabbing him. Reginald Harris Jr. stood on the steps between the first and second floors armed with a shank but was not observed actively fighting. Farrel Crawford, in jail for armed robbery charges, used a makeshift flail to beat Stephen Anderson in the head and body. Keeli Ware initially fled out of camera view but was later seen fighting Farrel Crawford, although he did not participate in any stabbing. Stephen Anderson was knocked to the ground by Farrell Crawford and another unidentified inmate after rearing back to punch multiple people who were trying to help DeQuinn Hamlin stab Madison Lewis. Anderson was then assaulted by Farrell Crawford, Michael Mitchell, an unidentified inmate, and DeQuinn Hamlin.

Multiple other inmates approached, hit, and stabbed Anderson while he was on the ground. Dezmin Freeman ran off camera and returned with a shank, engaging in a stabbing match with Tony Landres. Jeremiah Kelly was initially knocked to the ground and held down and stabbed by Tony Landers, Anquavius Hill, and other unidentified inmates. Madison Lewis was the first person stabbed and was not observed fighting or carrying a weapon.

The injured inmates were Jeremiah Kelly, Stephen Anderson, Dezmin Freeman, Keeli Ware, Madison Lewis, Roger Fielding, and Tony Landers. The injuries were described in detail in the sheriff’s report. Jeremiah Kelly received 15 stab wounds to the back and one deep stab wound to the left bicep, requiring him to be transported to Piedmont Hospital for treatment. Stephen Anderson had stab wounds to the left forehead, seven stab wounds to the back, one abrasion to the right elbow, multiple bruises and split skin along the top of his head.

Anderson lost consciousness in jail medical and was transported to Augusta University Medical Center for treatment. Dezmin Freeman sustained a stab wound on the left side of his face next to his left eye, a stab wound to the top of his left shoulder, and a stab wound to the back of his left shoulder, treated in Jail Medical. Keeli Ware had a cut behind the left arm and a cut on his left hand middle finger, treated in Jail Medical. Madison Lewis had a cut on and behind the left ear and three stab wounds to the front.

If other inmates were involved in the altercation but could not be identified, it is possible that there may be further investigations to identify those individuals. The prison authorities may conduct interviews with witnesses and review surveillance footage to determine who else was involved in the incident. Depending on the severity of the altercation, criminal charges may be filed against those identified as responsible.

In addition, the prison may also take steps to address any underlying issues that may have contributed to the altercation, such as overcrowding, understaffing, or inadequate resources for inmate programs and services. These issues can create a tense and volatile environment that can increase the likelihood of incidents like this occurring.

It is important for prisons to maintain a safe and secure environment for both inmates and staff. This requires a comprehensive approach that includes proper staffing levels, effective training for staff, appropriate security measures, and access to programs and services that can help inmates address issues such as substance abuse, mental health, and anger management.

Ultimately, preventing altercations in prison requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the root causes of conflict and provides inmates with the support they need to succeed once they are released.

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