NC Prison Officials Moved After Critical U.S. Report

The Justice Department’s National Institute of Corrections reported glaring procedures in North Carolina prisons were employees were killed during an escape attempt. The state took action involving three top employees pending an internal investigation.

Three North Carolina officials have been moved from their jobs after the fatal attacks on four employees at a prison, the Charlotte Observer reports. The two top administrators at Pasquotank Correctional Institution, Felix Taylor and Colbert Respass, were placed on paid leave pending an internal investigation. Karen Brown, director of Correction Enterprises, was temporarily reassigned. The agency ran the sewing plant at Pasquotank that employed four inmates who authorities say killed employees during an Oct. 12 escape attempt. Correction Enterprises runs 30 industrial plants in state prisons, employing 2500 inmates.

The actions follow release of a report by the National Institute of Corrections, which found that staff shortages and glaring security failures allowed inmates at Pasquotank to roam freely with easy access to dangerous tools. Prison staff let inmates wander through doors that should have been locked and allowed them to turn a stock room room into a “hiding place” concealed from security cameras. Inmates were even allowed to check out their own tools, including hammers and scissors with six-inch blades. Federal investigators found no one at the prison was watching surveillance cameras that monitored the sewing plant. Current and former prison officers questioned whether inmates with violent histories should have been put to work in a sewing plant, where they would have access to dangerous tools. A single officer – half the recommended number – watched over inmate workers.