North Carolina has been in the midst of a prison staffing crisis for years. In 2017, shortages at the Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City contributed to a violent escape attempt that left four prison workers dead.
Now, three state minimum-security correctional facilities have announced they will temporarily close to strengthen staffing at other facilities. More than 20% of correctional officer positions in the state’s 55 prisons are vacant. WUNC’s Capitol Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii joins host Frank Stasio to discuss the closures. Joseph Neff, a staff writer with The Marshall Project, puts North Carolina’s staffing issues in a national context and shares his reporting on a Mississippi prison where a warden relied on gang leaders rather than staff to keep the peace.