Dehydration Death of North Carolina Prisoner Prompts Investigations, Firings, Resignations

A North Carolina prisoner with a history of mental illness who was found dead in a transport van after being transferred to another prison died due to dehydration, according to the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office.

However, the state pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Michael Anthony Kerr, 54, said records provided by the Department of Public Safety were so scanty and incomplete that she was unable to determine whether his death was accidental, a suicide or a homicide.

Prison records indicate that Kerr was held in solitary confinement for 35 days prior to his death and had spent the last five days of his life handcuffed and largely unresponsive. Prison officials repeatedly turned off the water to his cell because he had flooded it, and put him on a diet of milk and nutraloaf. The milk was later ordered withheld.

“They treated him like a dog,” said Kerr’s sister, Brenda Liles.

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Prisoners Train Shelter Dogs for Adoption

By Claudia Kawczynska Seven years ago, in May of 2008, Monty’s Home in Southeastern North Carolina received state approval to start its first Pawsitive Partners Prison Program (PPPP), in conjunction with the Pender Correctional Institution, in nearby Burgaw, NC. President and co-founder Barbara Rabb was on an educational mission to use her dog training skills

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McCrory's State Budget Aids Prisons, Education and Veterans

By Paul Woolverton North Carolina can increase its spending without increasing taxes, Gov. Pat McCrory promised when he released his proposed budget for the next two years Thursday. McCrory’s priorities include increased mental health care in the prisons, bigger salaries for nearly 10,000 correctional officers, more money for teachers and education, and a tighter focus

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Racial Justice Act

In June 2013, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed legislation repealing the state’s Racial Justice Act of 2009 (the Act), a controversial law that supporters said was an effort to address racism in death penalty cases. Opponents, however, argued it merely clogged the legal system and denied justice to victims of the state’s 154 prisoners

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North Carolina Community Colleges PEP

By Christopher Zoukis courtesy

Name: Prison Education Program of the North Carolina Community Colleges

Associated Educational Institution: 49 of 58 North Carolina Community Colleges

Associated Prison: 80 Different Educational Facilities


Mailing Address:

No Central Mailing Address. Contact North Carolina Department of Corrections at:

North Carolina Department of Correction

Division of Prisons

831 West Morgan Street 4260 MSC

Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-4260

Phone Number: (919) 838-4010

Fax Number: (919) 733-8272

Email Address: [email protected]

Point of Contact: Tracy McPherson

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North Carolina's Innovative Program for Prisoners

The North Carolina Department of Correction works with UNC-Chapel Hill’s Friday Center for Continuing Education to provide a variety of tuition-free university courses and educational services to inmates. Only those incarcerated in the North Carolina prison system qualify for the Correctional Education Program.

Since 1974, 167 participants in Correctional Education’s on-campus study-release program have earned college degrees, including three doctorates and eighteen master of arts or master of science degrees. Many have gone on to thrive in professional jobs. The recidivism rate of study-release participants is only 7 percent.  Image courtesy

Who is Eligible?

Incarcerated individuals must meet academic and sentence criteria for eligibility. The academic criteria are a GED score of at least 250, a WRAT reading grade level of at least 10.0, or prior college (or community college) academic credits. The sentence criteria exclude all Class A and Class B felons, as well as other adult offenders whose parole eligibility and discharge dates are more than 10 years in the future. The 18- to 25-year-old individuals funded by Federal Youth Offender Act grants must be within five years of parole eligibility or discharge date.

The Procedure

Qualified inmates should contact a Programs or Education staff member, preferably their case worker, at their correctional facility

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Overview of North Carolina’s Prison Education Programs

By Christopher Zoukis

Like many other states, North Carolina’s approach to prison education is multi-tiered and varied.  With inmates coming from different backgrounds, cultures, and educational levels, the population of NC prisoners has access to many programs suited to their needs.  Not only does the North Carolina Department of Corrections offer basic adult education to inmates, they partner with universities and community colleges statewide to offer qualifying inmates access to higher education. 

Why Education in NC Prisons? 

The NC vision for education isn’t much different than other state programs that hold the view that if you educate prisoners, give them a chance to earn an income through legitimate forms of employment, you will reduce recidivism.  In a news article in the Star News Online, the reporter acknowledged that North Carolina is among a handful of states that make “inmate education a Image courtesy priority.”  An official at the Department of Corrections stated clearly that they have the inmates as a “captured audience.”  They then treat this audience to a regimen of programs that are ultimately good for them—and many inmates realize the good it does them as they participate in their own educational growth.

Addressing Educational Needs

Many inmates require educational programs that teach the basics—reading and writing.  There are programs that impart basic literacy skills to prisoners statewide.  Many inmates, of course, have basic skills but do not have a diploma or GED that would make them more employable upon release.  So, the prison system offers coursework that allows inmates to brush up their skills and acquire the certifications they need to eventually gain legitimate work.  Other programs address vocational skills that help inmates develop specific career skills for specific types of jobs.  Gaining experience in a field is an important asset for prisoners to obtain in order to qualify for jobs upon their release.

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