Guice Leaving as NC Prisons Chief After Deaths

David Guice will retire on November 1. His departure was announced 11 days after two prison employees were killed during a failed escape attempt. “Perhaps the problems start at the top,” says a state representative whose district includes the prison. A corrections officer was beaten at another prison in April, and the Charlotte Observer has reported on drug, sex and gang violence problems in the corrections system.

David Guice, a top North Carolina prisons leader who oversaw an extraordinarily deadly time for the state’s correctional officers, is stepping down from his post, the Charlotte Observer reports. The Department of Public Safety announced Guice’s retirement Monday, 11 days after two prison employees were killed during a failed escape attempt. Guice, 62, the state’s Chief Deputy Secretary for Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, has been in his current role since 2013. He will retire on Nov. 1. A former state representative, Guice has worked in state government for 40 years.

In April, Sgt. Meggan Callahan was killed inside an Eastern North Carolina prison, allegedly by an inmate who beat her to death with a fire extinguisher. The prison was understaffed that month. An Observer investigation, published in June, reported that a hidden world of drugs, sex and gang violence thrives inside North Carolina’s prisons and that officers who are paid to prevent such corruption are instead fueling it. On Oct. 12, chaos erupted inside the sewing plant at Pasquotank Correctional Institution after plant manager Veronica Darden and officer Justin Smith were killed there. Inmates stabbed employees with scissors and beat them with hammers, according to prison workers who called 911. Ten other prison workers were injured. Four inmates have been charged with first-degree murder. Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks has closed the prison’s sewing plant, asked for a review of all inmates assigned to work at such operations and requested an outside review of the prison’s safety operations. Rep. Bob Steinburg said that he had heard from many officers who said they had no confidence in Guice and other prison leaders. “Perhaps the problems start at the top,” said Steinburg, whose district includes Pasquotank County. Guice oversaw a system made up of 37,000 inmates, 8,000 officers and 55 prisons. He earns $132,500 a year.