Inmates at a state prison spent their third day on lockdown Tuesday after serious fights, including one that turned deadly.

The staff claims several fights broke out at the same time over the weekend at the South Central Correctional Facility in Wayne County.

Now, state and local police are investigating, and this isn't the first time this prison facility has had problems.

The Tennessee Department of Correction says inmate Gerald Ewing, 28, was killed Sunday during one of several simultaneous fights at the facility involving 15 inmates in the dining hall, an outside yard, and two cells. Five other inmates were hurt, but we're told no prison staff was hurt.

Ewing had been serving a 10-year sentence from Shelby County for aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping.

Sonya Hefner, with Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the facility, said guards used non-lethal force to stop the fights.

The facility was placed into lockdown as a precaution, and visitation was canceled for the day.

The South Central Correctional Facility has already been at the center of a Channel 4 I-Team investigation. Several cell phones and an ice pick were confiscated from inmates there after the I-Team exposed prisoners were using those cell phones to get on Facebook from behind bars.

In July 2007, the prison had to go into lockdown after inmates refused to return to their cells, and officers had to put on riot gear and even use a chemical agent to get the inmates to cooperate.

Back in 1999, a murderer escaped from the facility, and there was also a standoff when prisoners started protesting. Luckily no one was hurt.

And in 1998, four inmates, including a convicted murderer, rapist and robber all escaped.

Those five inmates who escaped from the South Central Correctional Facilities in the 1990s were later recaptured.

As for the latest disturbance, we're told officials are investigating whether the fights were gang related.

Corrections officials would not release the other inmates' names who were involved in the fights because the investigation is ongoing.

The South Central Correctional Facility is a medium-security prison with a capacity of 1,642 prisoners, according to the TDOC website. It opened in 1992.

Assaults on prison inmates have been increasing in the past few years, and some critics argue the numbers the state released aren't reliable.

A total of 528 inmates were attacked in the 2012 fiscal year, which is up from 512 assaults from the year before.

The state hasn't yet released numbers for the year that ended this past July.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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