New NC prisons chief calls for stiffer penalties for inmates who attack COs

Five prison employees were fatally attacked inside North Carolina’s prisons last year

By Ames Alexander and Gavin Off
The Charlotte Observer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina’s new prison chief says he wants stiffer criminal penalties for inmates who assault correctional officers.

Reuben Young spoke with Charlotte Observer reporters on Friday – his first media interview since late December, when he became the state’s interim Chief Deputy Secretary of the N.C. Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice.

Young, 60, said he plans to ask lawmakers for legislation that would ensure additional prison time for inmates who attack officers.

Five prison employees were fatally attacked inside North Carolina’s prisons last year. In April, Sgt. Meggan Callahan was killed inside Bertie Correctional Institution, allegedly by an inmate who beat her with a fire extinguisher. Less than six months later, four more employees at Pasquotank Correctional Institution were fatally attacked.

Young also discussed how the state is addressing staff shortages in the state’s prisons. He said prison leaders have streamlined the hiring process and are looking to partner with local sheriff’s offices and the state Highway Patrol to help monitor prison perimeters.

He said the department will also look to increase pay and provide additional safety equipment for officers – either with current funds or additional money from lawmakers.

“It goes without saying that it doesn’t matter how much you pay a person, if they don’t feel safe or secure, they don’t want the job,” Young said.

©2018 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

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