Officials at the Prince George's County Detention Center have done little about the reported lack of action by guards to protect prisoners from rapes and other sexual assaults other than to attempt to discover who provided information about the rapes to a reporter, according to sources at the jail in Upper Marlboro.
"The only investigation was to find out who was leaking stuff to the paper," said one source.
Jail director Arnett Gaston and spokesman Jim O'Neill refused to talk to a reporter. "We've been advised by the office of law that it would be improper to comment," because of the continuing grand jury investigation into the rapes at the jail, O'Neill said.
County Attorney Robert Ostrom said "they jail officials have to decide on their own administrative policy, and I can't say what advice we give."
The only disciplinary action taken against guards, according to sources, came from Gaston in the form of a letter of intent to reprimand guard Doug Harvey.
Jail officials questioned Harvey, the sources said, in February, after two prisoners brutally beat and tried to sexually assault a third prisoner. All three prisoners say that the attack occurred while Harvey, stationed nearby, was asleep on duty.
One of the admitted attackers, inmate Clifton Tucker, said Harvey "was kicked back in his chair and his feet were up on the desk. If he was awake he would have seen him the victim ."
The sources said Harvey met with jail officiials and denied that he was asleep at the time of the attack on Clifton Parrish, 20, who spent about nine hours in jail while waiting for his mother to bail him out on a drunk-driving charge.
Sources said jail officials dropped the matter after placing the letter in Harvey's personnel file, but reopened their investigation a few weeks ago, when Parrish notified them of his intent to file a civil suit against them.
Harvey said he would like to discuss the matter, but could not because of Gaston's policy that prohibits guards from talking to the press.
Jail officials have not investigated accusations reported in the series against three other guards, two of whom were absent from their posts during sexual assaults, and another who refused to come to the rescue of an inmate who was being attacked, according to sources.
In eight other sexual attacks described in the series, guards apparently could not see into the cells where the assaults occurred.
Jail officials also have not investigated the role of classification counselors who placed inmates vulnerable to rape--such as Parrish and other persons jailed on misdemeanor charges--in the same cellblocks with those charged or convicted of violent crimes.
Jail spokesman O'Neill said overcrowding prevented officials from separating prisoners according to the types of crimes.
Al Cohen, a classification counselor at the jail, said there has been "a good-faith effort" to keep apart potential rapists and their victims and "if mistakes were made, they weren't meant to be made."
Meanwhile, the FBI has completed its investigation of the role of the guards in relation to the assaults at the jail. In October, the FBI announced that it would seek to determine whether guards deliberately allowed rapes and sexual assuaults to occur, in violation of the prisoners' civil rights. FBI spokesman Andy Manning said the bureau's report has been forwarded to the U. S. Department of Justice. At Justice, spokesman John V. Wilson said the department is still looking into the matter.