Authors Hinkle and Taylor with Assistance from Chowan Students Publish Book
Since its inception in 1870, the North Carolina State Prison housed a variety of notable inmates, including “Carbine” Williams, who invented semiautomatic firearms while incarcerated; Otto Wood, who managed several daring escapes from the prison; and Velma Barfield, the “death row granny” who in 1984 became the first woman executed in the United States in more than twenty years when she received a lethal injection for murder. The prison also was the scene of several riots, including major uprisings in 1952, 1968, and 1982. Despite those uprisings, and the generally “hard time” that inmates faced, the prison was the site of a number of major criminal justice innovations. Inmates were employed throughout the state and helped construct 1000s of miles of railroads and roads. They further helped erect countless state buildings, including the governor’s mansion and structures on the campus of North Carolina State University. Inmates also had access to a library, musical groups, literacy classes, mental health care, and counseling programs, and benefitted from a first-in-the-nation work release program. Through it all, the original prison served the state well for nearly 100 years before being demolished and replaced in the 1980s by a modern facility that now houses the state’s felons. In their new book North Carolina State Prison, Drs. Gregory Taylor and William Hinkle with the assistant of Chowan criminal justice majors employ 200 photographs, first person accounts, and historical narratives to tell the story of North Carolina’s first state penitentiary. Dr. Taylor, an associate professor of history at Chowan University, will address that story at 1:00 pm on Saturday, April 2nd in the City of Raleigh Museum.