Man’s Death a Riddle, Wrapped in a Mystery, Inside a Prison Van P. 2

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The Capitol Police have investigated the matter. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s investigation continues, though the department has taken some action to address the problem. The State Bureau of Investigation is also investigating, though the agency has yet to release any information to the public. Disability Rights North Carolina will review the evidence gathered in the internal investigation, if not the others. There may be other agencies or organizations involved as well.

And yet, more than a month after the death of an Alexander Correctional Institution inmate, his family and the public are no closer to understanding what happened. What is known for sure is that he left Alexander in a prison van, heading to Raleigh for medical treatment. When the van arrived at Central Prison, the inmate was “unresponsive.” Efforts to revive him failed.

We know, too, that he suffered from mental illness and multiple disabilities. He was a habitual felon with convictions dating back almost 20 years. This time, he was supposed to serve up to 32 years.

As we said in our last post, the central issue is what happened in that van. But there are questions about events leading up to the trip to Raleigh as well.

For example, the nature of his medical condition is unclear, though sources have confirmed that there was no sign of trauma. He had been in solitary confinement for 45 days.

The choice of Central Prison as a destination is also curious: Prison staff opted to take the victim to Raleigh, 165 miles away, rather than to one of the hospitals closer to Alexander. According to a DPS spokeswoman, there is not an internal policy governing where prison staff should take an inmate for medical care. The decision is left up to prison officials, who are to solicit input from medical or mental health staff first.

We will finish this up in our next post.

Source: News & Observer, “Seven NC prison workers lose jobs over inmate’s death,” Craig Jarvis, April 9, 2014