BALTIMORE -- A rapist's escape from the Maryland Penitentiary on Thanksgiving Day has led to the suspension of a guard and tightened security, including the planned use of canine units during the mass movement of prisoners.
Prison officials would not detail the charges against the correctional officer, whose suspension was disclosed by union officials.
But officials did reveal that two prisoners were caught last May trying to escape from the maximum-security prison using the same route across the prison yard and over a 25-foot wall the inmate used to get away Thanksgiving morning.
The inmates were found in May inside a fenced-in area of the prison yard where the west wing meets the prison wall, the same place where three inmates tried, one successfully, to leap to freedom last week.
James Edward Tasker, 24, of Edgewood has been free since he made a rope out of bedsheets to escape over the prison wall Thursday morning.
The 6-foot-tall, 160-pound inmate, nicknamed "Jet," was serving a life-plus-seven-years sentence for first-degree rape and other charges stemming from an attack on a Havre de Grace student.
Two other inmates, also serving life sentences, who attempted to flee with him were caught as they scaled the wall and jumped on top of a City Jail building next door to the penitentiary.
A correctional officer was in the yard during the escape, according to Beverly Marable, a prison spokeswoman.
Added security measures are being taken at the prison in the wake of the escape, including the installation of more razor ribbon on some prison walls.
A union official, meanwhile, said the guard's suspension would be appealed. He also said poor morale may have contributed to the escape.
Correctional officers have complained that morale is poor among guards because of staffing problems and disciplinary action taken by the administration, said Joseph Cook, director of field services for the Maryland Classified Employees Association.
"They are working with a minimum amount of staff because they are watching the budget for overtime," Cook said.