Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening said yesterday that county Corrections Department employes who failed to order special fencing that could have prevented a jail break last week likely will face disciplinary action.
Corrections Director Samuel F. Saxton said last week that in the wake of an escape from the Detention Center May 26, his department failed to purchase "unclimbable" wire mesh fencing that could have stopped an inmate from using an identical escape route last Tuesday night.
The inmate, Michael Mack Thompson, 24, of Landover, was captured a day later near White House and Brown Station roads about two miles from the $43 million jail in Upper Marlboro.
Glendening, who originally blamed the failure to buy a needed security fence on bureaucratic bungling involving county agencies, said yesterday that most of the purchasing paper work never left the Department of Corrections. "There will be some mistakes . . . . People are human," Glendening said. "But we expect people to do their jobs and do them professionally."
Glendening and Saxton declined to say who might be disciplined, citing confidentiality of personnel actions. Tim Ayers, a spokesman for the county executive, said that any disciplinary actions, as is the case for all such actions against county employes, could range from reassignment to termination. A decision is expected in two weeks.
Late last week, county officials said they were looking at possible disciplinary action against as many as three correctional officers whose negligence may have contributed to the May 26 escape.
After last week's escape, Glendening suspended the county's normal bidding process to speed up the addition of security measures, including installing more razor wire and special wire mesh on the Detention Center's perimeter fences and outdoor recreation yard walls. Two contracts totaling $227,000 were awarded last week, Glendening said, and the work should be completed by Friday.
In addition, Saxton said yesterday that electronic motion detection devices will be installed around fences on the recreation yard walls. Saxton had no estimate on the cost of the electronic sensors.
Glendening said that a consultant contracted with through the Justice Department's National Institute of Corrections will begin today to assess security and staffing at the Detention Center.
The consultant's audit could lead to the hiring of additional middle- and upper-level management staff, Glendening said, as well as additional security measures.