The Associated Press contributed to this story
The death of an inmate at the Alexander Correctional Institute is mentioned prominently in a letter from advocacy groups sent to the federal government. 54 year old Michael Anthony Kerr died in 2014, he was serving time at the local prison at the time of death.
Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and the North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services are requesting a U.S. Justice Department investigation. The request comes after Kerr’s family was given a $2.5 million settlement from the state. Kerr had been in solitary confinement for 35 days in 2014. According to records from the North Carolina Department of Corrections Kerr was twice cited for flooding his cell prior to his death. He was found unresponsive in the back of a prison van after being driven to Raleigh’s Central Prison Medical Facility. An autopsy determined Kerr died of dehydration on March 12, 2014. Medical records revealed he was not receiving treatment for his diagnosed schizophrenia.
A significant number of firings and resignations followed Kerr’s death at the local prison. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety website indicates Kerr was serving a 31 year sentence as a habitual felon after being convicted of firing shots into an occupied dwelling in October of 2008.
The letter sent to the federal government also cites other cases . It says that care for mentally ill inmates is “understaffed, underfunded, and plagued by arbitrary standards, insufficient oversight, and inadequate resources for inmates with mental illness.”
The Associated Press has requested comment from the U.S. Justice Department but so far they have not responded.