New NC Prison Reform Advisory Board holds first meeting after deadly 2017

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Several deadly incidents over the past year are prompting a new effort to make the state’s prisons safer for employees.

The North Carolina Prison Reform Advisory Board held its first meeting Tuesday morning.

The head of the Department of Public Safety, Secretary Erik Hooks, called their task daunting, but added the buck stops with them.

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The agency put together an eight-member team. Most are considered experts in the field of corrections.

They’ll give advice on best practices for making sure prisons are safe as they examine everything from training to staffing to the design of prisons and the technology used.

They’ll also look at inmate work programs.

DPS is acting on concerns after four prison employees died after an October 2017 attempted escape at Pasquotank Correctional Institution.

A Bertie corrections officer also died in April last year after an inmate beat her to death with a fire extinguisher.

“Our hope is to prevent anything like that from happening again and doing all that we can to mitigate the dangers that we have that are inherent with prisons. We have a lot of violent felons in the prison system. We have all felons in the state prison system and they’ve gotten more violent over the past few years,” said Pamela walker, communications director with the department of public safety.

The full board will meet quarterly. Walker said changes could be implemented along the way.

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