How Will North Carolina Escape Its Prison Crisis?

Mar 27, 2018

High staff vacancy rates at North Carolina state prisons has led to a perilous environment for corrections officers and prisoners.
Credit Pxhere / Public Domain

Staffing and safety issues inside North Carolina prisons are at a perilous point. In 2017, five corrections officers were killed in violent incidents at Bertie and Pasquotank Correctional Institutions. And according to new reports, the deaths are a symptom of a bigger problem.

A Charlotte Observer investigation found that in recent years, prison staff around the state were under-trained, and staff vacancy rates have spiked. Pasquotank and Bertie Correctional Institutes have a 37 and 31 percent staff vacancy rate respectively as of January 2018. Meanwhile, the treatment of prisoners in state facilities continues to be a concern for advocacy groups and families of the incarcerated. Recently a number of prisoner-justice organizations, including SisterSong and Forward Justice, teamed up to protest the shackling of female inmates during childbirth.

Host Frank Stasio spends the hour with reporters, activists, and a prison official to survey the individual and structural issues facing prisoners and prisons today. Charlotte Observer reporters Ames Alexander and Gavin Off share their reporting about the prison staffing crisis and prison safety concerns. Omisade Burney-Scott of SisterSong talks about the organization’s campaign to stop the shackling of pregnant women during childbirth. And mother and son Bessie Elmore and William Elmore talk about the new Straight Talk Support Group's transition house, a facility to support formerly incarcerated people during their re-entry. The Director of Prisons Kenneth Lassiter presents his team’s plan to fix the resource issues that plague state prisons.