A Prince George's County Department of Corrections report released yesterday blamed an escape at the Correctional Center in August partly on failures by two high-ranking officers to act properly on a tip that inmates were planning the escape.
The report also faulted the correctional officer assigned to the housing unit from which the four inmates escaped, saying that he was playing cards with prisoners while other inmates worked to loosen fencing atop a wall on the outdoor recreation yard.
As a result of the report's findings, reached by a three-member board of review, the correctional officer was fired. Maj. Carlton Yowell, who had been a top manager in the department's Bureau of Security, was reassigned. Lt. James Selby, who had been an acting captain, was given an official reprimand.
Lt. Col. Guy P. Smith, the former head of the Bureau of Security who was relieved of duty after refusing to answer questions from the board of review, submitted his resignation yesterday.
The report, prepared by Capt. Alvin Martin of the Corrections Department, Maj. John Proels of the fire department and Capt. David W. Van Dyke of the police department, said that Selby should have recognized "the potential problem" in the housing unit from which the inmates escaped in August because of the tip. Appropriate action by Selby, the report said, "could have prevented the escape."
Selby received a written report from a correctional officer about the planned escape three weeks before four inmates scaled the recreation yard wall and headed toward the facility's perimeter fences, the board's report said. But instead of passing the information along through proper channels, the report said, Selby inspected the fence in the housing unit and took no further action.
In the Aug. 25 escape, three inmates were captured before scaling an outer perimeter fence and a fourth, who got outside the fence, was captured within a day.
The board laid some blame for Selby's actions on Yowell, who the board said had failed to inform his officers properly about the importance of passing critical information through proper channels.
The review board also blamed the department's failure to purchase and install additional "unclimbable" mesh wire on perimeter fencing after an escape in May on a lack of communication throughout the Corrections Department.
A separate report was released yesterday on the May 26 escape, which it blamed on a combination of mechanical and human error.
"The issue has been to find out what went wrong and correct it," said Samuel F. Saxton, director of the Corrections Department. "I think we can now turn the corner."
On May 26, two inmates went over a recreational yard wall and climbed over the outer fence. Both were captured within a week.