Seven North Carolina state prison employees have lost their jobs as a result of an investigation into the death of a mentally ill and disabled inmate last month, reports the Raleigh News & Observer. A captain and four nurses have been fired, and a psychologist and another nurse have resigned. Other employees at Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville are being interviewed. Authorities are trying to find out what led to the death of Michael Anthony Kerr when he was transported by prison van from the western part of the state to Central Prison in Raleigh for medical attention on March 12. Kerr was unresponsive when he arrived and could not be resuscitated.
Kerr, 53, had significant mental illness and medical disabilities, according to an advocacy group for the disabled. He was serving a sentence of up to nearly 32 years as a habitual felon, and had a criminal record dating back to at least 1995, mostly for larceny and breaking-and-entering convictions. Leading up to his death, Kerr had been in solitary confinement for disciplinary reasons for 45 days. Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Pamela Walker couldn't discuss what might have occurred between Kerr and prison staff, what medical attention he required, nor why he was taken the 165 miles to Raleigh instead of hospitals that are much closer.