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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

DOJ Investigating Death of North Carolina Inmate

(CN) - The U.S. Department of Justice opened a criminal investigation into the March 12, 2014, death of an inmate with mental illness at the Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville, N.C.

An autopsy showed the inmate Michael Anthony Kerr, died of thirst after being held in solitary confinement for 35 days.

A federal grant jury in Raleigh issued two subpoenas this week seeking records from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety regarding the inmate's time in custody.

CNS contacted the department and was directed to a press released issued in the wake of Kerr's death.

The release states that the departments Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice has taken corrective actions and "accelerated measures that were already in progress to improve inmate management systems."

It also notes that the division's Office of Professional Standards has conducted investigations that resulted in "approximately 30 personnel actions, including nine dismissals, two demotions, and two resignations involving nursing, mental health, and custody staff."

While the alleged lack of care of inmates in privately-run prison facilities has come under much scrutiny in recent years, those issues don't seem to be in play in this case.

Pamela Walker, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety, said the state's Division of Prisons oversees its own medical and mental health care.

Asked about the DOJ investigation, Walker said, "No separate statement on the subpoenas is being provided."

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