How NC prison officers fuel corruption and abuse
A troubled work history with the North Carolina prison system didn’t prevent Victoria Best from getting another job – again with the state prisons.
Best was employed as an officer at Eastern Correctional Institution, near Greenville, in 2006, when prison officials saw signs that she was too close to an inmate.
Prison managers discovered a contraband cellphone near a spot where Best had been spending time with the inmate. The managers questioned Best about it – and about her “undue familiarity” with the inmate, state records show. Best promptly resigned.
Ten years later, in June 2016, Best was rehired by the prison system under her new name – Victoria Taylor.
A trainer recognized her from her previous job, and prison officials launched a new investigation. When Taylor was questioned by an investigator, she acknowledged that she had become involved in a relationship with an inmate when she was younger, records show.
Taylor was allowed to keep working for more than three months as the investigation progressed. In the meantime, she was written up four times for breaking prison rules. Twice, she left prison keys unattended in a restroom, records show. Two other times, she appeared to be sleeping on the job.
The state finally fired her in September 2016 – more than 100 days after she had been hired the second time.
Officials did not explain why Taylor was rehired.
Prison officials document when employees resign while under investigation “as best we can,” former Director of Prisons George Solomon said. But he acknowledged that it is sometimes possible for employees to resign – and then be rehired.
Over the past decade, “improved systems have been put in place to record reasons for employee departures,” a prison spokesman wrote in response to questions from the Observer.
Prison leaders say they can’t stop someone from resigning while under investigation. They say that if they uncover criminal behavior, they turn the case over to local law enforcement officers or the State Bureau of Investigation. Prison officials have no authority to do their own criminal investigations.