RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina prisons were already a more dangerous place to work before four employees at an understaffed prison were killed during a failed breakout attempt last month.

State prisons data provided to The Associated Press show assaults on prison staff so far this year are already 50 percent higher than five years ago. The same period has seen a near-doubling of assaults at Pasquotank Correctional Institution so serious that employees missed work.

The prison system has meanwhile cut the number of inmates by about 3,000.

North Carolina's prisons agency did not provide an official who could give reasons for the growing danger.

The head of the legislative committee likely to shape prison reforms said Thursday lawmakers are determined to improve safety, salaries and staffing.