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Warden Fired At Max-Security Western Md. Prison

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(AP Photo/California Department of Correction)

(AP Photo/California Department of Correction)

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CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) — Maryland’s prison agency said it has fired the warden of the North Branch Correctional Institution because his leadership failures created distrust and safety risks at the maximum-security lockup where a correctional officer was stabbed last year.

Bobby Shearin, the prison’s warden since 2009, told the Cumberland Times-News  he received the termination letter Monday from Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Gregg Hershberger and Wayne Webb, regional executive director. The letter stated that Shearin was to be placed immediately on administrative leave and terminated from state service Feb. 17, the newspaper reported.

Department spokesman Mark Vernarelli told the newspaper in an email that Shearin has been replaced by Frank Bishop, previously warden at the nearby Western Correctional Institution. Vernarelli said Richard J. Graham Jr. was promoted from assistant warden to warden of Western Correctional Institution.

An accompanying list of complaints alleged Shearin had failed to hold staff accountable for actions; allowed staff to violate dress code; allowed the chain of command to lapse to the point of ineffectiveness; failed to communicate with inmates, creating an atmosphere of distrust; failed to follow orders; and failed to address serious staff misconduct.

“The future of NBCI needs to move forward in a positive direction that cannot be achieved under your leadership style,” the document read.

Shearin said he’s evaluating legal options for responding to his firing.

He is at least the second high-level manager at the prison to lose his job following the Aug. 5 stabbing of guard Herbert Hilliard. Inmate Richard Crawford is accused of stabbing Hilliard 10 times with a makeshift weapon and is set for trial on Feb. 27.

The prison’s security chief was reassigned within the department three weeks later because Hilliard hadn’t been informed of a threat against him. The state workers’ union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, released a handwritten letter last summer that an inmate purportedly sent to a correctional supervisor four days before the attack on Hilliard, warning there would be violence if two officers were not removed from a specific tier of the prison.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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