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Lawmaker: ‘More murders’ if NC prisons aren’t fixed

Gun cabinet doors that “were left wide open and unsecured” was just one of the issues highlighted in a report on Pasquotank Correctional Institution


By CorrectionsOne Staff

PASQUOTANK COUNTY, N.C. — A North Carolina lawmaker warned that there will be more murders if the state doesn’t address issues in its prisons.

WVEC reports that following the deadly prison escape attempt at the Pasquotank Correctional Institution, a 78-page report was released that outlined the issues in the aftermath. Rep. Bob Steinburg called the report “shocking.” 

In this Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017 photo, police vehicles are seen outside Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City, N.C. (Thomas J. Turney /The Daily Advance via AP)
In this Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017 photo, police vehicles are seen outside Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City, N.C. (Thomas J. Turney /The Daily Advance via AP)

“If we don't get this under control; if we don't make a serious attempt at fixing this and fixing it once and for all, there are going to be, sadly, more murders that are going to take place in these prisons,” he said.

Some of the issues highlighted in the report include gun cabinet doors that “were left wide open and unsecured” and inmates issuing tools to other prisoners. A day before the escape attempt, one inmate distributed seven tools, including scissors and hammers.

Another issue highlighted was the absence of personal safety equipment. It said that the prison had blind spots because of a lack of monitoring and security cameras. Correction Enterprise employees, who run the sewing plant at the heart of the escape attempt, were not required to undergo any basic security training.

“We need to see what are the failures, what led to this, is this a problem of management,” Steinburg said.

According to the report, a staffing vacancy rate of 25 percent at the prison led to a lot of the lapses. The staffing shortage led to staff "burnout, complacency, and taking of shortcuts."

Steinburg said he believes these issues exist in many of the state’s 55 prisons and he doesn’t think it’s safe for COs to work at the facilities.

The report said if changes aren’t made, officials should reduce the state’s inmate population and suspend programs at the prison. Prison officials said they’ve taken action to address some issues, including suspending prison leaders, ordering stab-resistant shirts and increasing training.

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