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HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — Staff members at a maximum-security prison in western Maryland found two bullets inside an inmate’s bagged meal that was assembled in the institution’s kitchen, the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said Tuesday.

Spokesman Rick Binetti said a tip prompted them to search the bag, which was prepared by a kitchen staff composed of inmates, contractual dietary workers and correctional officers.

Inmates at the 1,500-bed North Branch Correctional Institution near Cumberland remained on modified lockdown, with no visitors and meals served in their cells, as investigators tried to determine how the live, .22-caliber rounds got into the brown paper bag Nov. 21, Binetti said. He said investigators have found no weapon capable of firing them and no other bullets. Correctional officers carry no firearms or bullets inside the prison.

The unsealed bagged meals, typically consisting of a sandwich, fruit and chips, are given to inmates who are restricted to their cells or assigned to crews that work inside the institution, Binetti said.

He said staff members found the bullets before the meals were delivered, based on inmate information.

“They developed intelligence that put those bullets in the bag. They knew where to search to find those bullets,” Binetti said.

Agency officials say their focus on intelligence-gathering and contraband interdiction has resulted in fewer inmate assaults on staff and inmates. In fiscal year 2011, which ended June 30, there were 164 such incidents compared with 177 a year earlier and 271 in 2007.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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