Seven employees of the NC Department of Public Safety—the prison unit in Alexander County—either lost their jobs or resigned after a prisoner was transferred from the facility there to Central Prison in Raleigh—and was dead when he arrived.  The shake-up in the state’s prison system processes is still going on, with officials looking at procedures and policies to prevent such an event from happening again, but part of the state’s dealing with the situation, members of the High Country chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness—NAMI—were asked to come to the prison to help deal with the staff training at the Alexander Correctional Institution that led to the death of the inmate. Local NAMI president Caroline Bond talked about the situation that led up to the man’s death, “In the meantime, his sister had been calling saying he was not getting the proper treatment, he had lost a lot of weight, and he was very depressed.”  Bond said that the state wanted input from those dealing with mental illness, “They wanted people living with mental illness to share their story and reached out to NAMI High Country because we have a very active affiliate and have a lot of people to share their stories.” She said two of her board members went to the prison and did just that.  I asked Bond what the prison was looking for from the NAMI members, and she said, “I feel like they were hoping to accomplish a better understanding of mental illness—put more of a human face on it—see life from the perspective of someone living with a mental illness.”  And while this was not the usual type of interaction that NAMI undertakes, Bond said that they do like to reach out to the community with programming and information. Information on NAMI can be found at or call 828-278-9293.