NCDPS taking steps to make prisons safer after Pasquotank attack

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper holds a press conference at the Executive Mansion in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, March 30, 2017, to announce that he signed a HB142, a compromise replacement bill for HB2, that the N.C. General Assembly passed earlier in the day. (Chris Seward/The News & Observer via AP)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) — The Department of Public Safety is taking immediate steps to make North Carolina prisons safer following a violent attack at Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City.

Governor Roy Cooper met with Secretary Erik Hooks and state prison leaders on Friday, directing them to improve prison safety in the wake of the attack.

“We owe it to the public and to our employees to keep state prisons secure, and we owe it to these fallen employees and their families to learn all we can about what happened and take steps to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again,” Sec. Hooks said.

The Department has begun a thorough assessment of the incident to determine where changes to policies, procedures or safety measures are necessary.

Among the steps Sec. Hooks implemented today:

  • Suspending Correction Enterprises operations at Pasquotank Correctional Institution while a thorough review of the program’s safety and security is completed.
  • Reviewing the safety of all Corrections Enterprises operations at all state prisons.
  • Increasing the number of correctional officers who provide security in Correction Enterprises areas, and increasing the number of rounds by the officer in charge within those areas until such time as we are able to conduct a security review to ensure the safety of employees.
  • Reviewing emergency procedures at all facilities to enhance safety and security.
  • Conducting a complete facility search at Pasquotank Correctional Institution by 100 trained and well-equipped Prison Emergency Response Team members. The search began this morning to look for evidence as well as unrelated contraband that may be in the facility.

Two prison employees were killed and several others injured Thursday at Pasquotank Correctional Institution when a group of inmates tried to escape.

The Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Department, along with the State Bureau of Investigation, are still conducting a criminal investigation into the attack and attempted escape.

Pasquotank Correctional Institution currently houses 725 male inmates in close, medium and minimum custody.

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