State police were called in to help secure the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup yesterday after prison officials discovered two signs of an escape attempt in the same section of the facility from which 30 men broke out last Wednesday night.
Prison officials said the latest escape attempt appeared to be the work of some of the 22 inmates who took part in the earlier breakout and had been recaptured.
Late Saturday night, prison guards found two partially sawed bars in a special confinement area holding the convicts who had been caught after the second largest escape in Maryland history. That same night, four pipe-cleaner size blades were found in two cells in the northern wing of the prison.
As a result of these discoveries, prison officials canceled visiting hours yesterday and brought in the state police to block all prison access roads. The prison guards conducted a shakedown of all inmates.
Prison press officer Cynthia Rosenwald said no inmates have escaped from the facility since the Wednesday night break. She said eight convicts who broke out that night are still at large.
The four tiny pieces of carborundum blade found Saturday night are so sharp they can cut diamonds and yet so flexible they are easily concealed in clothing, Rosenwald said.
Yesterday morning, prison officials believed that another escape attempt had occurred when they examined the window bar from which the 30 prisoners escaped last week and thought it had fresh cuts. But after an investigation, police determined that the mark on the bar was "an old mark, not a new one," according to Maryland State Police spokesman Bill Clark.
Rosenwald said the inch-thick window bar at H dormitory had been cut "only a tiny bit," apparently long before last week's breakout, which was made from that dormitory.
According to Clark, two inmates were questioned yesterday in connection with the carborundum blades. The police had conducted a shakedown of all prison inmates Friday and found a large batch of devices that could be used in escape efforts.
Prison officials said they are unsure where the recaptured inmates got the pieces of blade, after they were caught Thursday within 20 miles of the prison.
Rosenwald said the inmates were all searched thoroughly and had been locked in their cells since their capture. Some inmates required first aid treatment at the prison hospital for cuts they suffered during the escape.
The small saw mark discovered on the dormitory window bar yesterday was made by a hacksaw blade similar to the one used last week, officials said. Authorities believe that blade was smuggled into the prison.
Meanwhile yesterday Maryland State troopers continued searching for the eight missing inmates, posting lookouts at the last known addresses of the men.
At the time of Wednesday's escape one guard was in charge of 106 inmates, leading to charges that the prison was undermanned.
Joseph H. Cook, acting executive director of the classified employees association that represents 400 Jessup guards, said he has scheduled a meeting today with state prison officials to discuss supervision at the prison.