According to the indictment, officers smuggled in cellphones and drugs for gang members and even had sex with them. Four officers became pregnant as a result of trysts with one detainee, prosecutors said.
Gary D. Maynard, secretary of public safety and correctional services, put the review in motion at a time of growing pressure on him to clean up a scandal that implicates one of the nation’s busiest jails. Lawmakers in Annapolis have demanded answers — and have scheduled a hearing for May 8.
“Right now, this is our top priority,” said Maynard’s spokesman, Rick Binetti.
The review, which began Friday, will be unprecedented in scope, and no one will escape scrutiny, Binetti said. The jail’s security chief; its top administrator, Ricky Foxwell; and his two deputies are scheduled to take polygraph tests Sunday with the Maryland State Police, Binetti said.
Inquiries will continue with 450 guards and civilian support staff and will include interviews, reviews of personnel files and possibly lie detector tests as well, he said. The jail’s more than 3,000 detainees also will be scrutinized, and suspected gang members will be moved.
Maynard oversees a sprawling agency with 25 facilities housing more than 22,000 inmates across the state. It is not new to controversy: In 2009, federal prosecutors announced sweeping corruption charges against gang members and officers at another Baltimore prison. This week’s investigation bore an uncanny resemblance to the one four years ago.
Maynard is under pressure to act in part because he arrived in 2007 promising to usher in badly needed reforms, including finding an end to a rash of killings behind bars. Maynard’s challenge is also political; his boss, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), is considering a run for president in 2016.
Political leaders stopped short Friday of blaming Maynard or O’Malley for the scandal, but their demand for answers grew louder.
Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D-Prince George’s) said lawmakers “want to be assured that the state’s prisons are free of corruption and providing a safe and secure environment for the public, the prison guards and the inmates.” Vallario is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, the panel that will hold the hearing.
He said it was too soon to say whether Maynard’s job should be on the line.
“We certainly aren’t going to make that determination until we determine what breaches have occurred and who is responsible,” he said.
The union representing corrections officers welcomed Maynard’s investigation.
“I would say that the circumstances are being addressed now,” said Patrick Moran, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Maryland Council 3. “They need to dig deep and look up for people who are turning a blind eye to this in management.”