Gov. Cooper announces action on prison safety

Photo courtesy: Katelyn Corprew

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Friday actions to prison safety following an incident at the Pasquotank prison that left two people dead and several others injured.

In a statement, Cooper said he has directed state prison officials to take actions including suspending the inmate work program at the prison’s sewing plant.

State officials said inmates started a fire Thursday afternoon at the plant. Several inmates tried to escape after the fire, but officials said in an update Friday that there were no escapes.

Two employees were killed in Thursday’s incident — Justin Smith, a 35-year-old correctional officer and Veronica Darden, a 50-year-old correction enterprises manager.

Fourteen people were taken to the hospital, four of whom were inmates. All but three of the patients had been released from hospitals as of Friday.

Cooper has also ordered a review of all inmate work programs.