A new report from Duke University is encouraging state officials to make even more changes to improve safety in North Carolina’s more than 50 prisons.
The issue of prison safety has come into the spotlight after four prison workers were murdered during an attempted escape at Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City.
The Governor’s Crime Commission supported the Duke University study lays out nine different recommendations:
- Strengthen leadership by hiring new executive staff in the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice (DACJJ), developing a clear mission for the division, and improving standards for all management levels through mandatory training.
- Incentivize career commitment by coupling professional development opportunities with appropriate compensation, and having supervisors create individual professional development plans for each new hire.
- Prioritize employee wellness by re-establishing an executive wellness committee, tracking improvements in staff wellness relative to a baseline, and designing wellness programming based on assessment results.
- Bring all hands on deck to recruit new staff by forming recruitment committees at each prison, offering referral bonuses and other incentives, and creating a professionally-produced recruitment video. Track the results of recruitment tactics to identify those that result in highest long-term yield. Establish Cohesive Organizational Culture.
- Support organizational learning by utilizing more communication tools such as email, message screens, and hotlines, formalize operations feedback committees at each facility, establish an agency mechanism for sharing feedback following an incident, and establishing consistent policy for prison management walk-arounds.
- Modernize training by continuing to require completion of correctional officer basic training prior to starting work, extending the training period for new hires, updating basic training to reflect the needs of modern facilities and inmate characteristics, and increasing flexibility in job assignments. Improve Facility Safety.
- Modify oversight and intelligence gathering by creating an oversight body separate from corrections, further strengthening intelligence gathering capacity, and fostering better coordination between corrections investigators and local law enforcement.
- Enhance perimeter security by installing additional tools to detect and block contraband being thrown over fences, and tightening security procedures at facility entrances.
- Launch a year-long cell phone interdiction initiative that combines cost-effective cellphone detection technologies with increased random and targeted searches. Track results and cost savings, and partner with other states to monitor and advocate for federal policy solutions.
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety officials announced last week a dozen new steps they were taking to improve prison safety.
Those new steps included frisking almost everyone who enters the prison, giving batons to officers in medium-security prisons and updating security cameras.
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