Tag Archive: Central Prison

A second resignation in inmate death case

anti_police_graffitiFrom Indy Week

Update: Wednesday morning at 10:24: The N.C. Department of Public Safety announced this morning that five people have been fired in addition to the two resignations discussed in this story, for a total of seven correctional employees.

Asecond prison worker at Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville has resigned after an inmate died while being transported to Central Prison in Raleigh for medical and mental health care.

N.C. Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Pam Walker said Monday that the prison employee, whom she declined to name, was under department investigation after the death of Michael Anthony Kerr, a 54-year-old felon with a history of mental illness. The latest resignation comes roughly a week after another Alexander Correctional worker stepped down while under investigation. Walker said no criminal charges have been filed against those unidentified workers as of Monday.

Kerr was found unresponsive upon arrival at Central Prison on March 12 and resuscitation efforts failed, prison officials said. In the month prior to his death, Kerr had been held in solitary confinement in Alexander Correctional. According to his family, he was no longer taking his medicine and his mental health had been deteriorating rapidly inside the isolated cell.

“I think he died in that hole,” his wife, Katrenia Robinson of Fayetteville, told the INDY. Family members who viewed his body said Kerr appeared to have been beaten or starved. (more…)

Inmate dead on arrival at Central Prison in Raleigh

michael_kerr_webFrom Indy Week/

It had been weeks since Katrenia Robinson had last seen her husband, but she did not recognize the sunken, beaten man she saw on the funeral parlor table.

Michael Anthony Kerr’s broad, round frame had withered during his month-long stay in isolation at Alexander Correctional Institution in western North Carolina. His forehead was badly bruised and his lip was swollen.

That is not my husband, Robinson thought to herself.

“I think he died in that cell,” she said. “I think he died in that hole.”

As of Monday, the details on Kerr’s death are scant. He was officially pronounced dead March 11 at Central Prison in Raleigh. Inmate health records are confidential, but family members say they were told by prison staff that Kerr, a 54-year-old felon with a lengthy criminal record and a history of mental illness, died en route to the prison from Alexander Correctional to Central Prison. It’s unclear how he died, they say, or why he was not taken to a hospital.

When first contacted by the INDY Monday, N.C. Department of Public Safety [DPS] spokeswoman Pam Walker initially indicated that there were no plans for an independent investigation. But Walker reversed course hours later, saying that her agency is launching an “aggressive” internal investigation—almost three weeks after Kerr’s death—and will request a separate inquiry by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation. (more…)

Dec. 25th, Christmas Caroling at Central Prison

christmasWednesday, Dec 25th, 10am Christmas Caroling Outside Central Prison- Meet under the railroad trestle on Western Blvd. Enter Boylan Heights through Boylan Ave.

All are invited to the Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker House annual Christmas morning witness and caroling at Central Prison at 10 A.M.  We will  rally around the perimeter of the prison on Christmas morning to sing carols. Drummers will also be there to make a joyful noise. We hold a big Merry Christmas sign and bring the only cheer the inmates get on Christmas (The warden does not allow visiting on Christmas to give more guards the day off).  Singing starts around 10 am.  Believe me, this is a great way to remember what the season is about.  Peace and Blessings, Patrick O’Neill

Suit: Mentally ill NC inmate often pepper sprayed

Questions have been raised about the treatment of inmates in Unit One, a special 192-bed section at Central Prison known as "The Hole."

Questions have been raised about the treatment of inmates in Unit One, a special 192-bed section at Central Prison known as “The Hole.”

by Michael Biesecker/ from WNCN

Lawyers for an inmate who suffers from a serious mental illness say he was abused at North Carolina’s Central Prison by guards who repeatedly doused him with pepper spray while he was locked in a tiny cell.

Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and a victim of childhood sexual abuse, inmate Jerry C. Williams has spent much of his 57 years in state psychiatric hospitals and prisons. He was first arrested at age 10 for shoplifting and began hearing voices in his head in his late teens, according to his prison mental health evaluation.

He was most recently sentenced in 2002 by a judge in his native Wayne County to more than 28 years in prison for being a habitual felon, following a lengthy record of convictions for trespassing, assault and burglary. He has an IQ of 76 that provides him with “borderline Intellectual functioning,” according to prison records. (more…)

Judge to hear arguments in Central Prison lawsuit

Central_Prison315_280By EMERY P. DALESIO, Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. — A federal judge was scheduled to hear arguments Thursday about dismissing a lawsuit that accuses guards at North Carolina’s maximum security prison of sadistically beating inmates, resulting in broken bones and wheelchair confinement.

U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle planned to consider whether there is enough evidence already presented in court documents to go ahead with the lawsuit on behalf of eight inmates at Central Prison in Raleigh.

The inmates accuse 19 correctional officers of taking handcuffed and shackled inmates from solitary confinement cells where they were placed for disciplinary reasons to blind spots out of view of security cameras, then severely beating them. Former prison administrators Gerald Branker and Kenneth Lassister are accused in the lawsuit of failing in their duties for not developing policies on investigating inmate abuse complaints and to preserve video tapes that might contain evidence from being erased.

“For years, the inmates of Unit One have pursued every avenue available to them to put an end to the violence that is routinely inflicted upon them. They have filed grievances, engaged in letter writing campaigns to public officials, gone on hunger strikes, and exhausted all of the administrative remedies available to them. The violence has not stopped,” wrote Elizabeth Simpson, an attorney for North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services representing the inmates. (more…)

Call-in Day Against I-Con on Monday 8/20

A call-in day has been announced for Monday, August 20 in support of all prisoners who are suffering the inhumane form of punishment known as I-Con (Intensive Control) or solitary, and in particular the Strong 8 prisoners who are still in solitary.

Here’s a note from one of the Strong 8:
“I went to the DCA board today, and all of us were given six more months of ICON! I can’t believe it! I haven’t received any infractions, or caused any trouble. I haven’t given no reason to be kept on I-Con. The FCC board recommended us to be released to regular population, but the warden over-ruled the recommendation and told the DCA board to keep us on ICON as an example. I have never seen such gross disregard of policy, and such blatant abuse of power. It’s ridiculous. As you know, all support, and acts of solidarity are truly appreciated. You and everyone else involved are truly a blessing.” (more…)

Strong 8 Given Six More Months of Solitary, “As an Example”

A few days ago, several members of the Strong 8, eight men sentenced to I-Con for staging a work protest in Central Prison’s kitchens in December 2011, were sentenced to six more months of solitary confinement by the Warden himself.

At a July 25th hearing, these men, who have had no infractions or write-ups for the past six months, were recommended for general population. This ruling was just directly overruled, however, by Warden Lassiter, who, in the words of one of the Strong 8, “told the DCA board to keep us on I-CON as an example.” The men are now stuck in isolation for no apparent reason, at least according to policy. (more…)

Central Prisoners Vote to End Hunger Strike

We just received word that earlier this week prisoners at Central in Raleigh voted to end their hunger strike, started on July 16th in protest of conditions on Unit 1. We have not heard from prisoners at Bertie or Scotland. Small groups of prisoners at Foothills CI and Tabor CI have also said they have joined the protest.

The strike was organized to take aim at the fundamental conditions of sensory deprivation, psychological and physical torture, and abuse that characterize solitary confinement, and for that matter, prisons in general. It was also catalyzed by the need for law libraries for prisoners to be able to be better organize and defend themselves in the legal realm.

Some of the short term demands of prisoners, such as tools with which to clean cells, clearing the windows to the outside, and other demands have already been granted, but more significant demands have been put to the unit manager and have yet to be addressed. For the strikers involved, it seems like this strike was a way to garner much needed attention towards their conditions, as well as demonstrate to other prisoners that it is indeed possible to organize across lines of race or gang status, and to do so with meaningful support and solidarity from the outside.

(more…)

NY Demonstration to Target NC Prison Profiteer, in Solidarity with Strike

Occupy activists from around Upstate NY will descend on Cortland on Friday August 3rd at 3:00pm for a picket and demonstration outside the headquarters of prison profiteer JM Murray Center Inc. The picket will be in solidarity with prisoners at three North Carolina prisons on hunger strike since July 16th. The hunger strikers, who are calling themselves the Freedom Riders Movement, asked supporters on the outside to boycott and take actions against several companies profiting off of the mass incarceration of North Carolina prisoners. Other companies that the prisoners listed for supporters to boycott or demonstrate at include Heinz, New Balance and Coca Cola. (more…)