After Prison Deaths, NC Increases Penalties for Inmates

After a deadly year for North Carolina prison workers, state leaders will significantly stiffen penalties for inmates who assault staff members. Inmates who attack employees will be put in solitary confinement and lose visitation privileges for at least a year under a new policy.

After a deadly year for North Carolina prison workers, state leaders announced they will significantly stiffen penalties for inmates who assault staff members, the Charlotte Observer reports. Inmates who attack employees will be put in solitary confinement and lose visitation privileges for at least a year under a new policy unveiled Friday. Offenders may also serve more months in prison, because they could forfeit all accumulated credits for work and good behavior. Five prison employees died in attacks at state prisons last year. In April 2017, Sgt. Meggan Callahan was killed inside Bertie Correctional Institution, allegedly by an inmate who beat her to death with a fire extinguisher. On Oct. 12, four Pasquotank Correctional Institution workers were fatally wounded when a group of inmates, allegedly wielding scissors and hammers, tried to escape the sewing plant.

After state prison leaders took steps to make the prisons safer, assaults on staff have continued at a steady pace. In the first seven months of 2018, the state reported 245 assaults on prison workers — more than one assault per day, on average. Thirty two of those attacks involved weapons. Brent Soucier, a manager at Central Prison, was seriously injured on June 19 when two inmates cut, beat and repeatedly stabbed him. “There’s zero tolerance for assaulting staff,” state Director of Prisons Kenneth Lassiter said. “…We’re making every effort to keep our staff safe.” Lassiter said prison officials have begun to work more closely with prosecutors to ensure that inmates will be criminally charged when they assault and injure staff members. Serious staff shortages have contributed to the dangers. Better staffing might have saved the lives of the five prison employees who died in attacks last year, experts and officers said.

from https://thecrimereport.org