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Perdue: Prison problems 'unacceptable'

Posted November 14, 2011
Updated November 15, 2011

Gov. Bev Perdue said today the mistreatment of mentally ill inmates at Central Prison is "unacceptable." 

The problems came to light in the Division of Prisons's own internal review of Central's hospital, where mentally ill inmates are housed.

The report, finished in August, details some shocking problems: inmates locked in tiny cells for weeks on end, pools of urine in cells, roach infestations, incorrect medication, faulty record-keeping, insufficient supervision of suicidal inmates, lack of training, understaffing, and many more issues. 

The AP's Michael Biesecker had this story on the report Sunday. The report itself is even more shocking. That's here. 

Asked about the report today, Perdue said prison officials are working quickly to correct all the problems the report found, and said the upcoming move of the prison's mental health patients into a newly built ward should improve the situation. 

"Now let me be very direct," Perdue said. "Nobody expects any luxurious treatment for any prisoners. They’re there for a reason. But we also expect there to be very decent, humane, healthy conditions for the prison population. This is unacceptable to me." Perdue prisons Perdue on biotech, prisons

"This kind of behavior that was documented in the article is unacceptable, it’s unacceptable to [incoming Corrections chief] Jennie Lancaster, it’s unacceptable to [current Corrections Secretary] Al Keller, and I believe you’ll see an end to it as we move into the new hospital," she added. 

Unacceptable or not, the problems in the report haven't yet led to any firings. According to the Division of Prisons, "no one individual was responsible for the total health services operations at Central Prison" during the time period covered by the report, and various key positions were left unfilled for months or years. 

Most recently, the report says, even positions deemed critically important were left empty till July 2011 to help the department accomplish its required budget cuts.

Perdue blamed the budget for the prison's woes. 

"We’ve been in the toughest economy since the Great Depression. Everybody knows that. And one of the places that’s been cut over and over and over is the Corrections system," she said. "You cannot provide mental health services to a prison population that is not the best-behaved to start with without having staffers to do that."

"We need a larger confined space with more professionals to watch over their mental health treatment," she added. "But always, always remember that they are prisoners. They’re there for a reason." 

15 Comments

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  • chevybelair57sd Nov 23, 2011

    Funny how after making the "hard choices" politicians always find the results unacceptable when they surface. Of course we as taxpayers want it all even when the funds are not there and the fight for what is there isn't to our liking. the war goes on LOL

  • Come On_Seriously Nov 16, 2011

    You're pretty good at the spin game marktroll.

    I never said that the extension of the temp sales tax would solve all of our problems, but no can deny that $800+ million would surely help. Particularly when polls have shown that most residents supported the extension (50% to 36%).

    What I DID say is that the group responsible for cuts to the budget is the state legislature in response to misinformed or misleading folks crying about the cuts that the governor made. Go ahead and deny that the legislature creates the budget. They are bent on cutting everything to the bone- regardless of consequence- especially when blame can be shifted to the executive branch for not managing an underfunded system properly.

    Your constant droning of 'overspent into oblivion' is an exaggerated opinion straight from the quote manual of the republican crowd who wants to 'send messages' and would prefer to waste your tax dollars by discussing NASCAR as the state sport and gold as the state mineral.

  • marktroll Nov 16, 2011

    flow just how much do you think 'letting the sales tax expire' could have funded??? it was roughly $800mill. the state was overspent into oblivion, and you act as though every cut could have been avoided/funded by re-activating the sales tax increase that was promised to expire. that is simply false

  • wbsloan1969 Nov 15, 2011

    Anyone who has been in Central Prison KNOWS that the conditions in the Mental Health ward are UNACCEPTABLE - that includes Jenny Lancaster and Alvin Keller!!!! It's Penn State all over again with a huge cover up of abuse by the heads of the Department of Correction. Wake up Governor and smell the urine - you are in charge!

  • jason19 Nov 15, 2011

    Wait, you mean that you CAN'T cut a budget year after year and expect the same results as when it was adequately funded? Imagine that. It's fine to go against waste and abuse in the system, but despite what budget hawks want to think, the majority of the waste HAS been cut. We have been cutting into the bone since 2009. But hey, continue trying to get juice out of a dry fruit; it sure has been working great so far, hasn't it.

  • ppoinnc Nov 15, 2011

    You can't cut the budget of the Division of Prisons and not expect problems. Especially staff! DOC is top-loaded with managers! Cut them! Start with DCC and cut some of those managers on Yonkers Rd!

  • annemarek Nov 15, 2011

    Gov. Perdue is the very person who gave immediate command to reduce staffing in the first place for the prison system resulting to a dangerous situation for inmates and staff.

  • Come On_Seriously Nov 15, 2011

    People angry at her for cuts to the budget somehow seem to forget who actually writes the budget and who refused to maintain a 3/4 cent tax to maintain facilities and programs such as this- the good ole boys in the legislature.

  • YippiYiyoKiYay Nov 15, 2011

    Gov. Perdon't Do, Seems to me that if these accusations are true that these CRIMINALS are being given the same consideration as they gave their victims. Perhaps consider the lives and/or property that was destroyed by these scum. Whatever happened to concern for the victims? You passed your level of incompetence a long time ago. Glad to say that I will not miss you.

  • mbnccure Nov 15, 2011

    Govenor Perdu, how can you make statement such as UNACCEPTABLE about the DOC and make it seem like you are unaware of the issues that are going on in the prisons in NC when you and the staff of the DOC have had numerous letters and phone calls regarding these very same issues that the 1000’s of inmates face on a daily bases. Mental Illness, Medical issues, Abuse, Neglect, Rapes, Beatings by staff and other inmates, food issues. I know for a fact of a group call North Carolina Cure who advocates for prisoners in NC have brought these issues plus many more to your office’s attention, DOC officials, DOJ, NCLPS, and many other places looking for help for these inmates with little attention back. I feel the only reason you are reacting about any of this at this time is to gain votes that you have lost. The hardest hit with the Budget cuts have been the Department of Corrections and Education, at least this is my own opinion. If anyone wants to know the truth of what goes on behind the

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