A sign for Scotland Correctional Institution in North Carolina.

Stabbings bring renewed scrutiny to Scotland Correctional Institution

By Rachel Baldauf


Two stabbings in less than a month at Scotland Correctional Institution in Laurinburg have brought renewed scrutiny to the prison that has been plagued with reports of mistreatment, unsafe conditions and overcrowding. 

The most recent incident, on April 30, resulted in the death of 39-year-old Christopher Michael Edwards, who was found in a common area with multiple stab wounds. He died an hour and a half later. 

On April 8, another person housed at the facility was stabbed and airlifted to a nearby hospital.

The recent violence has highlighted safety concerns at Scotland Correctional, one of North Carolina’s largest prisons. Five people died there last year

William McCallum Jr., who was incarcerated at Scotland Correctional last year, described the facility as a dangerous place where drug overdoses and fights were common. Stabbings and other violent acts happened “probably every other night” during his time there, he said.

In many instances, McCallum said, prison staffers didn’t witness the violence. People housed at the facility would “beat on the glass just to try to get the officer’s attention,” he said, but it was often too late. 

“Scotland Correctional is the worst prison in North Carolina,” said McCallum, who has been housed at prisons across the state since he was convicted in 2006 of robbery with a dangerous weapon. He is serving a nearly 36-year sentence.

In January, McCallum and his fiancee, Frankie Faulk, launched Behind the Walls Talk, a blog dedicated to sharing the experiences of people behind bars. McCallum came up with the idea for the site.

“He said there’s so much going on that people do not know about at these prisons,” said Faulk, 40. 

Others have also voiced concerns about Scotland Correctional. An unnamed prison staff member told NC Newsline last year that overcrowding at the facility forced some people into solitary confinement while they waited for beds to become available. Those on suicide watch were kept in 5-foot-by-5-foot “holding cages,” the employee said.

“This is not a good situation, and until someone in Raleigh comes down and really pays attention to us, I’m afraid it’s going to get worse, and something is going to break!” the employee wrote in an email, NC Newsline reported. 

‘Two people just got stabbed’

Last year, one man died from an apparent suicide at Scotland Correctional. Four others died as a result of medical emergencies, according to the N.C. Department of Adult Correction. Since 2020, at least four people have died from suicides at the facility, and two have died from stabbings. On Aug. 29, 2020, Mario S. Organistas was stabbed to death with a homemade weapon and two others were sent to the hospital after a fight broke out involving seven people in a single housing unit cell.

The situation at Scotland Correctional is mirrored at prisons across the state, where overcrowding is rampant and often leads to violence, said Dan Siegel, the deputy legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina.  

“It’s kind of a simple math problem,” Siegel said. “If you have a high prison population, and you have low staff who do not receive great training, then that is just a recipe for violence.”

A 2023 audit of Scotland Correctional said the prison had exceeded its capacity of housing 1,756 men at least once during the prior year. At the time of the audit in November, the prison housed 1,789.

Scotland Correctional is not currently overcrowded, said Brad Deen, a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Adult Correction. He said the current population is below 1,700, “well within acceptable standards.” 

Prisons can still be dangerous even if they’re not overcrowded, Siegel said. “If Scotland says they’re underneath the max, well, that’s great. But two people just got stabbed.”

North Carolina prisons are also dealing with a staff shortage. As of Jan. 4, roughly 40% of correctional officer positions across the state were unfilled, NC Health News reported. At the time of its 2023 audit, Scotland Correctional employed 562 staff members.

The state activated special teams to investigate the April 30 stabbing at Scotland Correctional, Deen said. Based on their initial findings, additional searches for contraband such as weapons were conducted.

‘Nobody’s addressing our concerns’

Faulk said she and McCallum have been calling for changes for months. Along with concerns about violence, they worried about mold in the showers and cockroaches crawling out of water fountains. “It is so filthy that it resembles a prison you may see in a third world country,” McCallum wrote in a January blog post.

Deen said Scotland Correctional hasn’t received reports of mold or insects, adding that the facility is regularly inspected by a local pest control company. 

A little over a month before Edwards’ death, Faulk wrote a complaint to Warden Michael Parsons and other prison staff about the conditions at the facility. She said she also spoke with Parsons on the phone. But little changed, she said.

Parsons did not respond to requests for comment from the Border Belt Independent

Faulk also emailed state Sen. Danny Britt and state Rep. Garland Pierce about her concerns. Faulk shared their emailed responses with the BBI in which both said they were glad to hear Faulk’s “concerns are being addressed.”

“And I’m like, nobody’s addressing our concerns,” Faulk said. “They’re not taking the matter seriously.”

Pierce was among a group of local and state leaders who toured Scotland Correctional in October, a month after the NC Newsline story was published. 

“There was an open, productive conversation from all parties present. I was left with the impression that the correctional administrators take these allegations seriously, and will work with officials including myself to evaluate the most urgent changes that need to be made,” Pierce said, according to The Laurinburg Exchange.

McCallum, who has received 21 prison infractions in the past 18 years, was recently transferred to Southern Correctional Institution in Troy. He suspects the move was prompted by his attempt to shine light on the conditions at Scotland Correctional. 

“I don’t really feel like anything is gonna change anytime soon,” he said. 

A sign for Scotland Correctional Institution in North Carolina.
Scotland Correctional Institution is one of the largest prisons in North Carolina. Photo: Google Earth