Chania Brooks’s hands were shaking. She had just seen an inmate get attacked by a fellow gang member, blood spilling from his head, the affidavit said.
She needed advice, so she went to get it. Not from a supervisor. From White.
“I abandoned my post,” Brooks said in an intercepted call between her and White. “I said, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ I thought he was going to have to go 911.”
Brooks has denied the charges against her, including the allegation that White fathered her child. When a reporter went to her home after the indictment was unsealed, she peeked out a partially open door and said, “I don’t have a story to tell.”
Calls to the other women were not returned, and attorneys for some of them declined to comment. Among the guards, only Linder has entered a plea. She told a judge last week that she is not guilty.
Documents that investigators recovered from the Black Guerrilla Family detail how its new members are taught to target specific officers. Look for women, they are told, with “low self-esteem, insecurities, and certain physical attributes.”
The manipulation of young female officers often starts with a smile or a brief conversation, said a former inmate very familiar with the gang’s tactics. Then the inmate slips the guard a few hundred bucks in exchange for bringing him a pack of cigarettes.
“Once that door is open, you find your way in,” said the former inmate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of safety concerns. “It’s a hustle game.”
The gang also recruits relatives, girlfriends and fellow gang members without criminal records to apply for positions as corrections officers to establish a network of operatives within the prison walls, he said.
As many as 80 percent of corrections-officer applicants in the central region, which includes Baltimore, do not make it through the background investigation, said Binetti, the corrections spokesman.
Among those who do, women seem to dominate. More than 60 percent of the corrections officers in Baltimore’s jails are women, Maryland officials estimate. By comparison, women make up 37 percent of the guards in the District, a D.C. Corrections Department spokesman said.
Regardless of the jurisdiction, officials say, all guards receive training on how to deal with the con games they will encounter inside prisons. They are warned how easily a compliment can turn into a favor, which can turn into an obligation.
Jon Galley, a top Maryland corrections official, said he likes to show trainees a copy of a how-to guide, confiscated from an inmate’s cell, that lays out how to win over guards. The two pages of tips include dropping a “kite,” or love note, confessing to the officer that the inmate “felt a connection to her, that she was beautiful.”
James Gondles, executive director of the American Correctional Association, said he has little sympathy for the officers who ignored their training. They knew better.