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O’Malley Criticized By Md. GOP On Prison Corruption Investigation

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Troubling new evidence reveals the corruption in Maryland correctional facilities goes far beyond the Baltimore City Detention Center, and outraged lawmakers are calling for it to end.

Mike Hellgren explains how criminals were exploiting the system.

A newly unsealed federal indictment shows how widespread gang activity is now in the suburbs, including Howard County, and it all ties into the correctional system scandal.

Pictures show Black Guerrilla Family gang members in jail. One of them is talking on a cell phone, smoking a cigar and wearing a gold chain. That’s according to Republican delegates who say it shows the level of dysfunction behind bars.

“This isn’t isolated. This problem is a vast corruption scandal that expands beyond Baltimore City,” said Del. Nicholaus R. Kipke.

The cases are astounding: A Black Guerrilla Family kingpin accused of impregnating four officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center, where he had ready access to cell phones and control.

Another federal indictment, dating back four years, revealed jail was the lap of luxury for other Black Guerrilla Family members who drank Grey Goose Vodka, ate lavish seafood dinners and smoked expensive cigars while behind bars.

And a new indictment reveals a Bloods gang member at the Chesapeake Detention Center, a federal facility staffed by the state, repeatedly obtained cell phones to make drug deals, helping a violent criminal operation in suburban Howard County.

The feds say inmates anonymously used Green Dot credit cards to launder money and fund drug sales.

Related Story: Gov. O’Malley Outlines Plans To Combat Crime Behind Bars

The delegates are calling for an independent audit of state correctional facilities.

“We need to start looking out for the citizens of Maryland instead of looking out for the criminal element, and that’s something we’re not doing,” said Del. John W.E. Cluster, Jr.

The governor just announced he will push for legislation making it a felony to smuggle cell phones into jails and review discipline policies for correctional officers, after being dogged by tough questions.

“I don’t believe there is any impediment to our ability to root out corruption in our prisons,” said Gov. O’Malley.

Lawmakers believe this picture speaks louder than words, that action must be taken.

The Republican delegates who spoke Thursday said they would like to see correctional officers entering facilities to be frisked by another agency like the state police.

Lawmakers would like an investigation into whether there’s a major corruption problem in Western Maryland correctional facilities and believe it could be as big or bigger than what’s happening here.

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