by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
Horrific events inside North Carolina’s prison system have focused attention inside and outside government on addressing the system’s many needs related to staffing challenges, work environment, and prisoner mental health and addiction issues. Carolina Journal’s Kari Travis reports in the February cover story.
An April altercation at Bertie Correctional Institution left 29-year-old Sgt. Meggan Callahan dead after an inmate beat her with a fire extinguisher. In a deadly escape attempt at Pasquotank Correctional Institution’s sewing plant Oct. 12, inmates stabbed guards with scissors and battered them with hammers. They set fire to the facility. The prison break failed, but four employees, including plant manager Veronica Darden, died. Several officers and inmates were injured, and four inmates were charged with first-degree murder.
At Bertie, one in every five officers’ positions were empty. At Pasquotank, 28 percent of positions went unfilled, and only one officer presided over roughly 30 inmates in the sewing plant at the time of the attack.
As legislators focus on reforms, you’ll be hearing more about this issue. Carolina Journal will keep you updated. For now, be sure to read the entire cover story here.