North Carolina will launch a nationwide study to find better ways to battle corruption and improve safety in the state’s prisons, the Charlotte Observer reports. The study, requested by Department of Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks, would address many of the problems described in a recent Charlotte Observer series. The Observer found that officers who are paid to prevent prison corruption are often causing it. Officers frequently team up with prisoners on crimes that endanger staff members, inmates and the public. Staff members smuggle in most of the illegal drugs and cellphones to the state’s maximum-security prisons.
The state’s review will examine how candidates for prison jobs are screened and hired, how new officers are trained, and how prison leaders staff their facilities, keep out contraband and address employee misconduct. The study is being coordinated by the Governor’s Crime Commission, which advises the Department of Public Safety and the governor. State officials say they’ve not yet determined who will conduct the study or what it will cost. The goal is to have a report completed by year’s end. State legislators have said that they, too, will conduct an inquiry into prison corruption in response to the Observer’s investigation. The legislature will ask prison leaders to provide information about contraband, hiring practices and employee misconduct. The Observer found that North Carolina doesn’t take key steps to prevent state employees from selling drugs, cellphones and tobacco to prisoners.