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Md. legislative leaders announce joint briefing on Baltimore jail scandal

The entrance gate to the Baltimore City Detention Center. (Photo by Washington Examiner)

Maryland legislative leaders on Friday announced a joint House and Senate briefing next month prompted by the recent indictments of 25 inmates and corrections guards at a Baltimore city jail.

With the larger meeting planned, the House Judiciary Committee has postponed a hearing on the corruption probe that was scheduled for Wednesday.

In a statement, House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) commended Gary D. Maynard, the state’s corrections secretary, for working with federal officials to root out corruption at the state-run Baltimore City Detention Center.

“But it is the responsibility of the legislature to ask the tough questions about what is working and what is not working in our prison system,” Busch said.

Busch and Miller said they would set up a special task force following the briefing to look at legislative and budgetary measures that can be put in place during next year’s session, which starts in January.

The task force, they said, will examine hiring, training and disciplinary processes, as well as efforts to combat gang violence.

According to last week’s indictment, the Black Guerilla Family gang essentially took over the institution. Officers smuggled in cellphones and drugs for gang members and even had sex with them.

“This is a critical issue that warrants our immediate attention,” Miller said in the statement. “While we have to be very careful not to impede or interfere with the integrity of the legal process surrounding these indictments, we have to seriously evaluate what can be done to combat this kind of insidious criminal activity in the state’s correctional system.”

The statement said the briefing would be in June but did not identify a date.

In an email Friday to House Judiciary Committee members, Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr., the chairman, said he and several other members had met with Maynard on Wednesday.

“In a meeting lasting over two hours, we had an open, candid, and informative discussion,” Vallario (D-Prince George’s) said, adding that he is “satisfied” that Maynard and others are taking steps to address the “immediate problems” at the Baltimore jail.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

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