NC Prisons

Names of Confederates, segregationists, and white supremacists on campus and government buildings have captured most of the public’s attention when it comes to how institutions are reckoning with structural racismHowever, several prisons across the South also bear the names of problematic figures, or former plantations.

Host Leoneda Inge talks with Keri Blakinger, investigative reporter for The Marshall Project, about contextualizing the names of prisons in the South.

Leoneda also recaps the just-wrapped Democratic National Convention, and highlights the significance of the event’s roll call of delegates.
 


Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons, answers a question during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic at the North Carolina Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, Thursday, May 28, 2020.
N.C. Department of Public Safety

The email sent to staff at Piedmont Correctional Institution in Salisbury on Friday, June 5, had a sense of urgency.

"ALL HANDS ON DECK!" it began, in capital letters.

Barbed wire perimeter fence.
Colby Rabon / Carolina Public Press

North Carolina has failed to protect inmates from COVID-19, according to a ruling from a Wake County Superior Court judge. The litigation against Gov. Roy Cooper and members of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety highlights evidence and affidavits that contradict DPS’ claimed safety measures. 

An image of a jail cell
AlexVan / pixabay Creative Commons

At least two death row inmates in North Carolina can use a law addressing racial discrimination to seek life sentences instead, even though the law has since been amended and repealed, the state Supreme Court ruled on Friday.

Pittman Drug Co. / UNC Libraries

Summers were spent at his father’s gas station. Charles Townsend met all sorts of folks while manning the ice house. In the muggy lowlands of Robeson County, ice was a sought after commodity — no matter if you were raising tobacco or bidding on it in the warehouses. But as the cash crop went into decline, and Townsend considered his career prospects, he chose to leave the town of 2,000 people to work in retail. 

Andrea Circle Bear was eight months pregnant and serving a two-year sentence for a drug charge when she became the first female federal prisoner to die from the coronavirus. Her death sparked questions and conversation about what placed her in prison and why she was held there under the circumstances. 

Concertina wire surrounding a prison
Kate Ter Harr / Flickr Creative Commons

A COVID-19 outbreak at a North Carolina state prison has spread to approximately 150 inmates, health officials said Friday.

Photo of a prison cell.
Pxhere

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.

Drone in flight
Don McCullough / Flickr Creative Commons

An app being developed by engineers at Duke University could help prison officials prevent drones from delivering contraband to inmates.

A woman in a prison cell
Officer Bimblebury / Creative Commons http://bit.ly/2JTob1G

The number of incarcerated women in North Carolina is growing faster than the number of incarcerated men. According to statistics from Prison Policy Initiative, the number of women in the state prison population increased 19% from 2009 to 2015. In that same time period the number of men in the state prison population increased only one percent.

reentry simulation
Naomi Prioleau / WUNC

At the Lexington Police Department building, just 30 minutes south of Greensboro, dozens of people are running around trying to avoid going back to jail. Some are registering for state ID cards, while others are attempting to put cash in their pockets by pawning off whatever they own.

Paula Poundstone On 39 Years Of Funny

Oct 26, 2018
Michael Schwartz

Paula Poundstone got her start as a stand-up comedian nearly four decades ago at open mic nights, meticulously planning out her jokes but invariably ad libbing. Over the course of her career in comedy, she has worked to strip away the scripted nature of her routines to become truly improvisational. She has also let her witty humor wander farther and farther from the stage, as a voice actor, NPR quiz show personality, author and most recently podcast host. Poundstone is the author of "The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness" and the host of the weekly podcast "Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone." 

These Women Are Giving Voice To A Prison Sentence

Oct 26, 2018
courtesy of Susannah Long

There is some scripture that inmates at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women can deeply relate to: stories about women who suffer at the hands of abusers and decide to fight back, and text that exalts God despite challenges and pain on earth. When musician and prison volunteer Susannah Long started a songwriting workshop in the facility, she used this scripture as the jumping-off point for inmates to express their lived experience by creating their own songs. 

Courtesy of Noran Sanford

As a counselor in Laurinburg, North Carolina, Noran Sanford provided therapy to young people whose backgrounds weren’t too far removed from his own. These boys came from broken homes, struggled with poverty and addiction and lost family members to violence. But as he stood over yet another grave of a talented young man he had tried to help, Sanford knew he hadn’t done enough.

Gabriella Bulgarelli / WUNC

Inmates around the country are on strike demanding improved prison conditions, better pay and increased rehabilitation services. The National Prison Strike started Tuesday, and is set to end on Sunday, Sept. 9.  

Courtesy of Hope Larson

For decades, dedicated readers have scoured their local comic book stores for the latest issue of their favorite superhero story. But look past the capes and one will quickly come across comics and graphic novels that offer complex and critical analyses of politics and society. From the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Maus” to recent issues of “Black Panther,” graphic novels and comics allow readers to engage with dense topics and relate to diverse characters and experiences. 

Prison Bars
Michael Coghlan / Flickr Creative Commons

Two more employees have been attacked by an inmate at North Carolina's Central Prison.

The Department of Public Safety said in a news release that the latest attack happened Wednesday morning in a dining area at the prison in Raleigh.

Gabriella Bulgarelli / WUNC

While incarcerated it is a constitutional right for inmates to receive medical care. But what happens when inmates are released and no longer have access to health services? The reality is they often go without medication or treatment. Considering prisons have become the largest mental healthcare providers in America, it is in the interest of public safety to remedy that gap in coverage.

The inside of a cell at central prison.
Courtesy of Rose Hoban

Is the North Carolina Department of Public Safety breaking its own rules? A 2016 policy change prohibits inmates with mental health issues from being held in solitary confinement for more than 30 days. So why was Devon Davis, who is developmentally delayed and has mental illness, kept in solitary for more than five months last year?

photo of a barbed wire fence
Pxhere / Public Domain

Most state prison employees charged with crimes while on duty get off with little punishment, according to a new review from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. From 2013-2017, 57 employees were charged, and only four got prison time. 60 percent of criminal charges were dismissed.

A barbed wire fence stock image
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.