Correctional officers speak out at legislative committee meeting

Apr 13, 2018

Correctional officers from around the state gave lawmakers a first-hand account of the dire need for reforms to make our prisons safer for workers Thursday at a Joint Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety meeting.

Officers gave detailed descriptions of the dangers they face each day. An officer from Pasquotank Correctional Institution, the site of a 2017 attack that left four workers murdered, said officers often feel like they are unable to defend themselves.

"We feel like inmates sometimes have more rights than we do," she said. "We're trying to protect public safety. Who protects us?"

Another officer from Polk Correctional begged legislators to take the situation seriously. She said she had been an officer for 20 years, and assaults on staff have increased tremendously in the last two or three. 

"Anything you can do to support us, we welcome," she said. 

Unfortunately, another reminder of the dangers at our prisons came yesterday at Lanesboro Correctional, where an officer was seriously injured while breaking up a fight between two inmates.

SEANC Government Relations Director Ardis Watkins asked the committee to have more meetings in the future, with more notice so more officers can take part. “We have members who have been scheduled for mandatory overtime through November already (because of understaffing problems). It is time to take a very serious look at this.”