Local News

Officers At Central Prison Face Allegations of Improper Conduct

Posted May 29, 2000

— Raleigh'sCentral Prisonhas some of the tightest security of any of North Carolina's correctional facilities and is home to death row. But for the second time in two months, there are concerns about how close some correctional officers are getting to inmates.

Arrest warrants indicate convicted felon Samuel Slater had sex with a correctional officer at Central Prison last November.

Officer Cassandra Hamilton of Clayton resigned from her job this spring. Last week, she was arrested by theState Bureau of Investigation.

Two months ago, another guard at Central Prison resigned. Administrators say Lavonda Armstrong gave nude pictures of herself to a male inmate.

The incidents raise the question of whether North Carolina prisons should allow inmates to have close contact with correctional officers of the opposite sex.

Criminal Justice instructor James Chapman says besides the impropriety of officers getting intimate with inmates, there is the potential for major security breaches.

"I think it's probably very difficult to mix the genders inside an institution like that, particularly a single sex institution," Chapman says. "You could have the danger of special privileges being granted to an inmate in return for sexual favors."

Beyond enforcing further restrictions, there is not much more the state can do.

"There's been legal cases as to whether you could bar different gender employment among prison guards," Chapman says. "The Supreme Court of the United States won't let you do that, although they will allow reasonable restrictions to be placed upon the presence of female guards in male institutions and male guards in female institutions."

WRAL was unable to reach Hamilton, who is out of jail on a promise to appear in court next month.

There is no word on how investigators learned of the situation.

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