Local News

N.C. correctional officers investigated for sex with inmates

Posted October 29, 2010
Updated October 31, 2010

— Top officials within North Carolina’s prison system have admitted to ongoing investigations into what they are calling “undue familiarity” between prison employees and inmates.

“This is probably one of the most critical operational issues that we have been emphasizing since the early 1990s,” Jennie Lancaster, chief secretary for the Department of Correction, said Wednesday.

Preston Keeter, 44, a former correctional officer at Fountain Correctional Institution for Women in Rocky Mount, resigned last month after a DOC investigation into allegations that he had sex on Sept. 22 with an inmate he had supervised.

Edgecombe County sheriff’s investigators charged him on Sept. 27 with having a sexual encounter with an inmate. Two days later, he resigned from the post he held since July 2006.

WRAL News learned that Keeter also married in June 2009 a former inmate that he once supervised at Fountain Correctional. She was released from the prison in April 2007.

Neither he nor his wife would comment Wednesday.

Preston Keeler Correctional officers investigated for sex with inmates

There’s at least one other case under investigation at Fountain Correctional, a minimum-security prison with about 583 inmates.

“We have 20,000-plus employees (in the state prison system). We have 40,000 inmates,” Lancaster said. “This is unfortunate, but it is a national operational issue in our prisons. It's a consequence of the work environment.”

Lancaster said that, since she joined the DOC in 2009, officials have been strictly enforcing a zero-tolerance policy regarding such behavior. Part of that includes mandatory training for every employee.

Lancaster said Keeter's case should be fair warning to others that the issue will be taken seriously.

“Where we begin to see a professional boundary has been crossed – way before there has been any sexual contact – we initiate an investigation,” she said.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • jjwood2424 Nov 3, 2010

    Well Sgt. Johnson from Neuse Corrections is on the news web site Now!!! Maybe this will stop all the corrupt officers if people start calling them OUT!!

  • jjwood2424 Nov 3, 2010

    Yea what he did was wrong but come on charging him with this!! Say when she is released and they decide to start dating..then what? What they really need to focus on is all the drugs, cell phones and cigarettes that are being brought into the prison by the sergeants,lieutenants and captains that work in the DOC! They never suspect officers with that type of rank would bring those things in the prison they only look at the officers that's why the prisons are flooded with it!!

  • necejack Nov 2, 2010

    "I would be glad if Sgt. Johnson at the Neuse Correctional ain't in the news from setting up inmates to breaking their bones or having his subordinates do his dirty work. ....ROBBIEQUINN66"

    it sounds as if you are either a former inmate who was housed at the Neuse or you are a scared officer or staff person that refuses to stand up for what is right. Which one are you? since you seem to to know a lot about this supposed situation

  • Justin T. Nov 1, 2010

    This puts an end to an old joke. Apparently NOBODY can get laid in a women's prison, ugly or otherwise.

  • rgbreed Nov 1, 2010

    I know an inmate who ended up spending almost two months in segregation after getting a write-up based on false accusations from a Food Service Officer because he ignored her. She had several complaints of sexual misconduct on her record but her word was always taken over the inmates and nothing was ever done. From what I understand, her husband is a former inmate. Aside from that, I hear she's not much to look at so...Anyway, it is a serious problem when you have people in authority acting worse than those they are supposed to be guarding, and protecting.

  • jonmac Nov 1, 2010

    superman, Ms. Lancaster has been in DOC much longer than since 2009. She was promoted to her current position in 2009. Maybe this reporter has not been writing very long and has a hard time composing factual information in coherent order.

  • superman Nov 1, 2010

    Ms. Lancaster is so experienced with the Dept. of Correction since joining in 2009. Has she had a chance yet to unpack her stuff in her office. Why they didnt promote someone from within the depart as Secretary that has at least some knowlege of corrections.

  • ncguy Nov 1, 2010

    Nothing like having " captive" audience for his little flings.

  • gman007 Oct 29, 2010

    jurydoc, point well made, still...

  • leo-nc Oct 29, 2010

    "He should get 60 years."--wildcat

    I don't agree with that he did, but 60 years? You have serious issues. Really.