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Lawmakers Call For Sec. Of Public Safety To Step Down Amid Prison Scandal

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — City jail scandal. The pressure is not letting up on the governor or top managers in charge of Maryland’s correction facilities. There are renewed calls for the state’s prison chief to step down.

Mike Hellgren spoke to several lawmakers, and has their calls for action.

Some, including the comptroller, believe this is a system-wide problem. He questions who’s really in charge.

The governor faces tough new criticism for how state correctional facilities are run, days after the exposure of a lurid sex and corruption scandal at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

That’s where federal prosecutors allege violent gang members were working with officers to run a criminal empire.

“Boy, it looks like the rot is pretty longstanding and pretty deep,” said Peter Franchot.

Comptroller Peter Franchot says it goes beyond one facility, and he’s worried about the state’s liability.

“I cannot believe trial lawyers are not going to get involved and bring class action suits on behalf of these prisoners,” he said. “They go and complain to a corrections officer. They don’t know whether they’re talking to a corrections officer or a gang member. How pathetic is that?”

The mother of an inmate at the city detention center, who asked WJZ not to use her name, says she fears for his security and wants action to stop the corruption.

“For me, it’s very important. It’s supposed to be done,” she said. “It’s supposed to be stopped. It is supposed to be stopped.”

The governor has defended his Secretary of Public Safety, Gary Maynard, and said the federal indictments are a positive step as his administration works to root out corruption.

But Delegate Patrick McDonough wants Maynard fired.

“What the federal people discovered in that one institution is only the tip of the iceberg,” McDonough said. “Get someone in there who’s going to go from top-to-bottom on the management system, take care of the corruption. There is no management backup, it’s out of control.”

The state approved a $40,000 settlement Wednesday for an inmate who alleged he was beaten with the help of a corrupt corrections officer. There is now concern that could set off a wave of lawsuits, with taxpayers footing the bills.

State lawmakers will hold a hearing next week on prison corruption.

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