Gang Worries Lock Down 6 State Prisons This Year

State prison officials concerned about gang violence are locking inmates in their cells at high-security prisons statewide.

The Department of Correction says five of the six prisons have returned to normal operations.

In Eastern Carolina those prisons are Maury, Pasquotank and Bertie Correctional Institutions.

The violence began at the Scotland Correctional Institution in Laurinburg, which has been on lockdown off and on since January.

Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Pamela Walker says after gang-related problems among inmates broke out at Scotland, lockdowns were imposed within days at the Maury, Lanesboro, Pasquotank, Bertie and Foothills prisons. The goal was thwarting coordinated gang activity.

Neal Richards of the Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective says his organization collected prisoners' complaints of guards and inmates being attacked. Richards says the crackdown sparked hunger strikes and inmates intentionally flooding their cells.

Last week, WITN News asked the Department of Correction about the lockdowns. Our request for information didn't come until after the News & Observer in Raleigh published a story on the lockdowns this morning.

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