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Top leaders at prison where 4 died demoted, took pay cuts

September 27, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina prison officials slashed the pay of two top administrators who had leadership responsibilities at a lockup where four employees were killed last year during the deadliest breakout attempt in state history.

Both men were demoted and their salaries slashed by 26 percent in May for what was described as “gross inefficiency,” according to personnel records prisons officials provided to The Associated Press on Thursday.

Pasquotank Correctional Institution Administrator Felix Taylor and assistant superintendent for custody operations Colbert Respass were suspended earlier this year after an outside investigation found multiple security lapses at the prison contributed to the slayings last October.

Taylor now evaluates appeals by prisoners who have been disciplined at prisons in eastern North Carolina. Respass retired in August after 31 years.

A National Institute of Corrections evaluation report released in January said the Pasquotank prison was so understaffed that workers cut corners in ways that created opportunities for the deadly breakout attempt. Workers at the prison, where one in four positions was vacant, delegated to inmates tasks including handing out scissors with six-inch blades, hammers and other tools to fellow prisoners working at the plant that made safety vests, the federal report said.

Four inmates now charged with first-degree murder used weapons including a claw hammer, a ball-peen hammer and half a pair of scissors, medical examiners said. The lone officer guarding the sewing plant near where the violence started was stabbed 67 times.

North Carolina prison officials have refused to provide a report from their internal investigation of failed breakout, saying publication could compromise the murder trials.

Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble said he expects the first trial will start in the first half of next year.

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