Top prison official stepping down


From staff, wire reports

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

RALEIGH — A top state prison official is stepping down in the wake of a violent attack by inmates at Pasquotank Correctional Institution that left two prison employees dead and 10 others injured, two of whom are still hospitalized with critical injuries. 

W. David Guice, 62, chief deputy secretary for Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, plans to retire at the end of the month, the N.C. Department of Public Safety announced in a press release Tuesday.

Guice has worked for state government for 40 years, DPS said. He began his most recent position with DPS in 2013 after serving as its director of Community Corrections. 

Guice’s announced retirement comes less than two weeks after a failed inmate escape attempt at Pasquotank Correctional Institution that resulted in the deaths of N.C. Corrections Enterprise Manager Veronica Darden and Correctional Officer Justin Smith. Both were remembered at mass funerals in Elizabeth City over the weekend.

Four inmates have been formally charged with two counts each of first-degree murder in Darden’s and Smith’s deaths.  

DPS’ press release doesn’t say Guice’s retirement is connected to the Oct. 12 deadly incident at Pasquotank Correctional Institution. However, the release does mention the violent attack and the actions DPS has taken in its aftermath to improve prison safety.

Those actions include shutting down the sewing plant that Darden oversaw at the Pasquotank prison. DPS has also ordered a review of all inmates working at the 32 prisons with Correction Enterprise facilities, suspending those with histories of assault from jobs that use cutting and other tools that could be used as weapons. DPS said it also has increased the number of correctional officers who provide security at Correction Enterprise facilities.

Both Pasquotank Correctional Institution and Correction Enterprises would also undergo a full safety and security review DPS has asked the National Institute of Corrections to conduct in the wake of the Oct. 12 incident. The NIC review of Correction Enterprises would look at staffing patterns and training as well as inmate placement, DPS has said.

In an interview last week, state Rep. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan, said he recently talked with 18-20 N.C. Division of Prison employees and they told him Guice is among the top prison officials whose leadership they no longer have confidence in.

Steinburg said he hears that Guice especially uses "touchy-feely psychology" and promotes an environment in which corrections officers are never viewed as being right and employees feel they can't speak up without fear of losing their jobs.

"That's what I am hearing repeatedly," Steinburg said.