Local News

Johnston County Inmates Allege They Are Being Mistreated By Prison Guards

Posted November 20, 2000

— Prison is supposed to be punishment, but inmates do have rights. Some inmates in Johnston County wrote a letter to WRAL saying they were being mistreated by correctional officers.

On Oct. 19, inmates at theJohnston Correctional Institutionsay a correctional officer put mace on a toilet seat in their cell block.

"I requested medical attention because I didn't know what was going on, I just knew my rear end was on fire. I knew there was a problem," says inmate Dexter Hayes. "If he would go as far as to spray mace on a toilet seat, what would he do next?"

The inmates also allege they have been the victims of racism, verbal abuse and inconsistent punishment for minor offenses.

"We don't have any rights, not at Johnston County. I don't feel it. I don't see it," says inmate Robert Lewis.

Loomis Woodard, the prison superintendent, says it is not uncommon for inmates to complain about correctional officers. He says the complaints are often retaliation for punishment, but all of them are investigated.

"It's something that happens quite frequently within the DOC," he says. "You can't leave one not investigated, because that one may have some validity to it. So therefore, we take them all seriously, and we look at each one of them."

Because the investigation is ongoing, the superintendent cannot answer specific questions about the allegations. However, the inmates say three correctional officers who they blamed for the problems were transferred to another prison on Sunday.

Thestate Department of Correctionis handling the investigation and expects to have a resolution in a few days.

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