Crime & Courts

State probes death of Alexander Correctional Institution inmate

North Carolina prison officials have launched an investigation into the death of an inmate assigned to an Alexander County prison unit.

That action came after a team of health professionals told prison authorities they had concerns about health services care at the Alexander prison.

Michael Kerr, 53, was found dead when he arrived at Central Prison in Raleigh on March 12 for medical treatment, state prison officials said. Kerr had been taken to Raleigh from Taylorsville, where he was an inmate at the Alexander Correctional Institution.

Kerr was serving a term of nearly 32 years for habitual felon status. State prison records show he was arrested a number of times in Bladen, Columbus and Sampson counties in southeastern North Carolina.

Officials said he was unresponsive when he arrived in Raleigh, and efforts to resuscitate him failed.

Authorities said a team of health care professionals and custody staff looked into the death, then briefed prison officials “sharing their concerns about operations and health services care management at the prison,” according to a Department of Public Safety news release.

Officials also said one prison employee has resigned since the investigation started, although authorities did not say why that person quit.

Frank Perry, secretary of the Department of Public Safety in North Carolina, said he has ordered “a swift, aggressive and thorough internal investigation.”

“Adherence to established policies and procedures is critical to operating safe, humane and secure prisons,” Perry said. “And I will not tolerate those procedures being violated.”