Six Maryland state prisoners who have been working in Fairfax County on a work-release program without knowledge or approval of county officials were withdrawn from the work site yesterday.
The prisoners were removed because of the objections of County Supervisor Audrey Moore (D-Annanndale), according to Bob Bonham, general manager of a real estate company that is converting some apartments in Annandale to condominiums. Bonham said he asked the contractor who employed the prisoners to remove them from the conversion project at the Talltree complex on Americana Drive and added that he does not know whether he will ask for them to be sent back.
Moore said she was "really relieved to know that they (the prisoners) are out" of the county. Moore had said she was "horrified" when she learned about the prisoners earlier this week.
The presence of the prisoners, who were bused daily from a minimum security corrections camp in Jessup, Md., surprised county police. The police discovered them in January while investigating burglaries at the Talltree complex.
There have been 25 unsolved breakins at the complex since January, according to police. Officials said the investigation is continuing and that there is no evidence the prisoners were involved.
Maryland corrections officials never notified local authorities that the prisoners were in the county, according to county police. There is no requirement that such a notification be made, although Virginia corrections authorities generally do notify local police when prisoners are moved to their area.
Farifax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said yesterday he talked with Maryland corrections officials Thursday and asked them if they would give him a list of Maryland prisoners when they are used on work-release programs in the county.
"They said they would have to discuss it," Horan said.
He said as many as 40 to 60 men are used on Virginia work-release programs in the county during any given week. Information about these prisoners is supplied by local corrections officers to police and his office, he said.
Horan said the Annandale incident is the first time that he has been aware of Maryland prisoners being used in the area. However, he said he understands that there are "a number of other Maryland prisoners over here in different programs."
"There is no way to bar them," he said.
The presence of the Maryland prisoners had upset many resident of the Talltree community. When told that the prisoners had been withdraw from the work site, one resident said, "I think it's great."
The six Maryland prisoners worked as electricians, carpenters and painters at the Talltree project and were among 40 to 60 men working on the condominium conversion, Horan said.
The prisoners work for Capital Building and Remodeling Co., also known as Jack Jones Electrical and Building in Lanham.
Jack Jones, president of the firm, has been unavailable for comment.
According to Superior Moore, the prisoners are working in a program funded by the Prince George's County Comprehensive Training Act program that is operated by Capital.