Inmates killed five North Carolina prison workers in 2017. Four worked as correctional officers; one as a maintenance mechanic. Violent assaults on officers have increased significantly from previous years, according to the Associated Press.
At Pasquotank Correctional Institution and Bertie Correctional Institution where these deadly attacks took place, one-quarter of the correctional officer positions were vacant. Last summer, 700 corrections officers had not received basic training. But according to a press release earlier this year from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, only 25 of those 700 officers still lack that training.
Are prisons more dangerous today than in the past? If they are, what’s contributing to the trend? Some say it’s due to poorly-paid officers and too much over-time; others identify higher concentrations of dangerous felons in cramped quarters as a problem. Decreased education and job-training programs and psychological supports for inmates are also possible root causes for the increased violence.
Professors Mario and Judi Paparozzi have seen this cycle play out before. After working for about thirty years in different prison systems, the Paparozzis advocate for a correctional model – one that works on correcting and modeling appropriate behavior – for prisoners rather than one based on a punitive paradigm.
Mario Paparozzi is currently the Chair and a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina Pembroke. He spent thirty years at the New Jersey Department of Corrections and is a former Chair of the New Jersey State Parole Board.
Judi Paparozzi is a lawyer and serves as a part-time Professor in the University of North Carolina Pembroke's Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice.