RALEIGH, N.C. — Officials with the North Carolina Department of Safety (N.C. DPS) say prison leaders are consolidating some of its operations to help reduce the spread of coronavirus as cases surge across the state.
Officials say this will allow for staff to be temporarily reassigned to prisons in need of more medical and security personnel to handle COVID-19 outbreaks.
“I am grateful we have such a dedicated, hard-working staff who help out their colleagues as we continue to battle this first-in-a-century pandemic,” said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons. “They are heroes.”
Consolidation of prisons’ operations will help more offenders to be medically treated within the prison system, and this will reduce stress on hospitals treating COVID-19 cases within their own communities, according to a news release.
N.C. DPS officials say the following actions have been taken:
- Operations at Randolph Correctional Center in Asheboro were temporarily suspended on November 22nd, and staff has been reassigned to other prisons in the region.
- Operations at Southern Correctional Institution’s minimum custody unit were temporarily suspended on November 20th, allowing staff to better assist in other sections of the prison in Troy.
- Operations at Piedmont Correctional Institution in Salisbury were temporarily suspended on November 25th, so that staff can help in the medium-custody facility in the prison complex.
Officials say the impacted offenders were transferred to other prisons with no problems, while following strict COVID-19 safety protocols.
More prison operation consolidations may be necessary in the future if coronavirus cases continue to surge, impacting the number of hospital beds available to offenders who need medical care for the virus and other illnesses, according to a news release.
Health officials say “This surge in North Carolina, combined with anticipated outbreaks of seasonal flu and an existing shortage of medical staff in the prisons, necessitates a greater reliance on Prisons’ medical operations.”
The amount of prisoners who have contracted coronavirus remains low in North Carolina, around 560 offenders out of 30,300 offenders, and prisons continue to regularly test their staff and inmates, according to a news release.