Reporting Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ)— Governor Martin O’Malley is under fire for his response to the jail corruption scandal. He praised his administration’s handling of the problem as more top leaders pushed for action and answers.
Mike Hellgren spoke with Baltimore’s mayor and has new, strong words from Governor O’Malley.
Fallout from the scandal at the Baltimore City Detention Center is growing. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told WJZ she found the indictment alarming. Federal prosecutors say inmate Tavon White ran the Black Guerrilla Family Gang and impregnated four officers, corrupting them to smuggle drugs and run a criminal empire, including using illicit cell phones to connect to the outside world.
She planned to address those concerns with the governor.
“We have to make sure that when somebody is sentenced, that means their reign of terror in our community is over,” she said. “I don’t have all the information yet, so I look forward to getting those answers.”
Secretary of Public Safety Gary Maynard–who heads the correctional system–only addressed the issue publicly last week when he said the buck stops with him.
“Everything that happens in this department is my responsibility,” he said.
WJZ has asked to speak numerous times with Secretary Maynard about the reforms he wants at the Detention Center, but we have been turned down.
At a Board of Public Works meeting, the governor reaffirmed his support for the secretary’s leadership.
“Do not relent and do not let up for any reason. For any reason whatsoever,” O’Malley said.
Maynard has now moved his office into the City Detention Center to carry out that mandate.
“It becomes embarrassing to me when we expose ourselves and we show what’s going on in our jails that I’m not proud of,” Maynard said.
Officers who spent years in Maryland’s correctional system are calling for more staffing.
“As long as management continues to collapse posts and work with fewer officers on the tiers to observe inmate behavior, you’re going to see things like this happen,” said Lt. Jack Hughes, retired from Poplar Hill.
“A federal investigation involving this many federal partners is not like getting a cheeseburger at the McDonald’s drive-thru window. These things do take time,” said O’Malley.
The indicted officers have all been suspended without pay.
Meanwhile, the three top administrators at the Baltimore City Detention Center have completed their polygraph tests. Within days, 65 more correctional supervisors are subject to polygraphs.
The department also says every detainee at the facility is being evaluated for potential security threats. The department also says 25 suspected gang leaders and dangerous detainees had been moved out to other facilities in the three months prior to the federal indictments.
Officials say the department is conducting a thorough review of all program, personnel and security policies, including those related to hiring. Employees’ performance reviews are being scrutinized. All correctional supervisors from lieutenant through major are being evaluated.