An audit released Thursday detailed security breaches and unsanitary conditions in the Baltimore jail system, where the Black Guerilla Family gang allegedly colluded with 13 corrections officers to launder money and smuggle drugs and cellphones into the facility, according to a federal indictment unsealed in April.
Four guards had children with one incarcerated gang member, according to prosecutors, who are continuing to investigate what they have described as an out-of-control jail. During the hearing, Maynard said it is possible that additional corrections personnel will be held accountable.
Documents released under a public records request Thursday showed Gov. Martin O’Malley’s office was informed two years ago that guards were probably smuggling half of all contraband into state correctional facilities and were rarely facing criminal prosecution.
E-mails also showed that O’Malley (D) was upset that he was abroad when the indictment was unsealed and unhappy about the “half-hammed” way the news was presented to the media.
Legislative leaders cast Thursday’s hearing as the first step in a months-long process to determine what steps they might take in next year’s legislative session to address shortcomings in Maryland’s jails and prisons.
“The good aspect of this situation is that the whole world is now aware of problems in the Maryland correctional system . . . and we are determined to fix those problems,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said at the outset of a joint hearing that he chaired with House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel).
The two leaders suggested that their primary aim was to understand what legislative and budgetary remedies might help address problems at the Baltimore jail and elsewhere. Suggestions floated Thursday included stiffening penalties for smuggled cellphones and removing the Baltimore jail from the governance of the corrections department.
Fourteen lawmakers were appointed Thursday to develop specific recommendations in coming months.
Maynard, who has retained O’Malley’s public support, recounted to lawmakers how his first order of business after the indictments was to ensure that the leadership of the jail had not been involved in the conspiracy and could be trusted to carry out reforms.
Maynard said he set about “vetting” top jail administrators, including the security chief, Shavella Miles, who was fired last month. “That’s where we came upon the security chief that didn’t pass the polygraph, that didn’t pass the interview,” Maynard said. “We removed her.”