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NC governor ‘troubled’ by prison corruption revealed in Observer investigation

An inmate peers from his solitary confinement cell at Lanesboro Correctional Institution.
An inmate peers from his solitary confinement cell at Lanesboro Correctional Institution. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday that he’s troubled that many of the problems spotlighted in an Observer investigation into prison corruption “weren't detected sooner.”

In a written statement to the Observer, Cooper said he’s “deeply concerned” about violence and contraband in the state’s prisons.

“Those who guard prisoners should not be enabling and committing crimes themselves,” Cooper said. “I’ve asked my new Secretary of Public Safety to take a hard look at these issues and recommend ways to make our prisons safer.”

A Charlotte Observer investigation found that a hidden world of drugs, sex and gang violence thrives inside the state’s prisons – and that officers who are paid to prevent such corruption are instead fueling it. Prison officers frequently team up with inmates on crimes that endanger staff members, inmates and the public.

The newspaper’s five-part investigation found that some officers run lucrative contraband rings inside prisons. Others have sex with inmates. Still others beat shackled prisoners, or team up with gang members to allow brutal attacks.

State prison leaders say most employees are honest and ethical – and that they have no tolerance for officers who abuse or collude with inmates.

“Where there is misconduct at any level, it will be addressed,” said Erik Hooks, the state’s new Department of Public Safety secretary.

To read the Observer’s full series, click here.

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