by Billy Ball
At least one North Carolina prison official who lost his job following the death of inmate Michael Anthony Kerr has a new position in the Department of Public Safety.
DPS spokeswoman Pam Walker confirmed this week that John Monguillot, the former assistant director of mental health in the prison system's western region, received a demotion after Kerr's death. He is now the psychological services coordinator at Marion Correctional Institution in western North Carolina, where he oversees mental health services at the facility.
As a result, Monguillot's annual salary dropped from $93,786 to just under $80,000. Walker did not offer any additional comment on Monguillot's demotion.
The Indy reported in April that Kerr died during a transfer to Central Prison in Raleigh after spending more than a month in solitary confinement at a prison in Taylorsville.
An inmate staying in a neighboring cell told the Indy that Kerr—who had a history of mental illness—had been left without food or water for days, covered in his own feces. An autopsy report in September confirmed that Kerr's cause of death was dehydration.
Following the report, DPS announced the dismissal of nine workers, including Monguillot, as well as two resignations. Another 20 to 30 workers were reassigned or disciplined. Kerr's death and the Indy report prompted investigations from the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation and a federal grand jury, as well as the nonprofit Disability Rights N.C., which reported "severe deficiencies" in the prison's care for Kerr.
Prison officials also announced several reforms, including the creation of a task force to recommend policy changes, consultation with outside experts and individual mental health reviews of inmates before placing them in solitary confinement. Mental health experts have long said that the use of isolation on mentally ill prisoners may only exacerbate illness.