North Carolina prisons

Jail Inmates Sue Over North Carolina County's Bail System

Nov 12, 2019
prison bars
Emiliano Bar / Unsplash

RALEIGH — A group of North Carolina jail inmates filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a county's cash bail requirements, saying the system unfairly jails the poor while letting people with money go home.

Kenneth Lassiter
N.C. Division of Prisons

North Carolina prison officials will impose tougher penalties on inmates who attack employees. The changes go into effect Friday, after a deadly year for prison workers. Five employees died in attacks at Eastern North Carolina prisons last year.

NC Division of Prisons

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — About four assaults take place in North Carolina's prisons every day, according to new data collected by officials working to address violence in the state system.

John Simmons / Charlotte Observer

Five North Carolina prison workers have died at the hands of inmates this year. In October, inmates killed two prison workers outright and fatally injured two others at the Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City. An officer was killed in April at Bertie Correctional Institution in the eastern part of the state. The Charlotte Observer's Ames Alexander and Gavin Off have reported on how a staffing shortage may have contributed to those deaths and is making the jobs of many prison officers more dangerous.

The Department of Public Safety says two employees at Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City have been killed after inmates set a fire in an unsuccessful escape attempt.  The department has identified the victims as 35-year-old correctional officer Justin Smith and 50-year-old Veronica Darden.  

Correctional officers are expected to maintain order, but many play key roles in disorder at state prisons.

“We see problems with serious corruption and abuse in virtually all of the maximum security prisons across the state,” says Charlotte Observer reporter Ames Alexander.  

He was part of an investigative team behind a series called “Wrong Side of the Bars.” The 5-part investigation exposes a system that enables corrupt prison guards to have a strong and dangerous influence at state prisons. WFAE’s Marshall Terry spoke to Alexander and colleague Gavin Off about the series.