NC Capitol

NC Capitol

After prison worker deaths, DPS toughens penalties for inmate infractions

Posted December 29, 2017 4:27 p.m. EST

— Inmates in North Carolina prisons will face tougher penalties for offenses committed behind bars, starting next week, officials said Friday.

The disciplinary changes come almost three months after four Pasquotank Correctional Institution staffers were killed in an Oct. 12 escape attempt. A Bertie Correctional Institution officer was also killed on the job in April.

"We have continually heard from employees that changes needed to be made to the offender disciplinary policy," Secretary of Public Safety Erik Hooks said in a statement. "Offenders need to be held accountable for their actions while in prison, and these changes will not only aid in managing inmate behavior, but will also help enhance safety within prisons."

The changes include shifting possession of a weapon, using profanity and disobeying a prison staffer to a higher category in the rubric the state prison system uses for meting out punishments. Also, more serious offenses will lead to the loss of more good-behavior-credit days, and sanctions won't be decreased for inmates who plead guilty to infractions.

The changes take effect Jan. 3.

"Ultimately, the intent is to enhance prison safety, which also makes communities safer through rehabilitating offenders who will be leaving prison and setting them on a path to become productive members of society," Hooks said.