Court hearing Friday in Central Prison abuse case - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

Court hearing Friday in Central Prison abuse case

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Friday, another hearing is taking place in a lawsuit that inmates filed against Central Prison in Raleigh, accusing guards of mistreatment.

There is still dispute over how to prevent these types of alleged incidents from happening again.

This all stems from a federal lawsuit on behalf of eight inmates at the prison who alleged correctional officers used "blind spots" out of view of security cameras to beat handcuffed and shackled inmates.

The inmates' abuse claims are supported by medical records documenting blunt-force injuries that occurred while they were segregated from other prisoners.

In U.S District Court Friday---the hearing is to discuss expert recommendations for reform. At issue---dispute over the implementation of one change--requiring a video camera operator respond to the scene of a spontaneous incident and that the camera remain on until the event is over and the inmate has been safely placed in a cell.

Earlier this year, a court-appointed expert said Central Prison still has blind spots that are hidden from the view of new security cameras added last year. 

Officials at the N.C. Department of Public Safety deny any abuse, saying staff used the minimal amount of force required to deal with inmates characterized as the "worst of the worst" among the prison system's population. Still, the state agreed last year to add security cameras to cover the previously unmonitored areas. 

A report with the court by former corrections administrator Eldon Vail said the new cameras still don't monitor all the blind spots where inmates say the abuse occurred. Vail also reported finding lenses so out-of-focus and smudged with grime that it was difficult to make out what the cameras were recording. 

Vail, who served as corrections secretary for the state of Washington prior to becoming a consultant, listed several recommendations as part of his report, including a requirement that prison staff regularly clean the lenses and maintain the camera equipment. 

Vail was appointed to review the prison's surveillance system by U.S. District Court Judge Terrence W. Boyle. In November, Boyle rejected efforts by the state to dismiss the inmates' lawsuit for lack of merit. 

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