The top administrator in charge of security at the Baltimore city jail has been removed from her job in the aftermath of a federal indictment accusing 13 female guards of colluding with a dangerous gang that officials said had essentially taken over the institution.
Shavella Miles was the third-highest ranking official at the Baltimore City Detention Center before her removal on Friday, which was confirmed by two people with knowledge of the investigation. Her departure appears to represent the first significant fallout since the arrests last month — and the first that extends into the ranks of management.
The development appeared certain to fuel more political hand-wringing in Annapolis, where Maryland Republicans on Tuesday scheduled a news conference to discuss “the failure” of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and Democratic leaders in the General Assembly “to prevent the illegal activity taking place within Maryland’s Correction System.”
State officials initially defended management of Maryland’s prison system, which operates the jail, but they also launched a top-to-bottom investigation into the facility’s staff that included polygraph tests for senior managers.
Their probe followed the announcement April 22 by federal prosecutors in Baltimore that 13 female prison guards had allegedly colluded with members of the Black Guerrilla Family prison gang to smuggle drugs and cell phones into the jail. Prosecutors said four of the guards became pregnant as a result of liaisons with a single inmate. The charges include racketeering, money laundering and drug offenses.
Rick Binetti, a Maryland corrections spokesman, confirmed that the security chief was removed on Friday, but he declined to identify Miles. Binetti also declined to reveal the results of the reviews of the two higher-ranking officials at the facility, Jail Administrator Ricky Foxwell and Assistant Jail Administrator Gwendolyn Oliver.
Miles’s removal came a week after Gary D. Maynard, the embattled secretary of Maryland public safety and correctional services, said top jail officials would be required to submit to polygraph tests following the federal indictment.
Miles held the position of security chief as of January, according to a state directory and recent court records. Colleagues saw her escorted from the 3,000-inmate facility north of downtown Baltimore on Friday.
A call to Miles’s home Tuesday evening was not immediately returned, nor was a call to the union representing jail guards. According to court records, Miles had been a state corrections employee since at least 2004. As of early 2011, she held the rank of major at a state prison in Jessup. By last July, she had been named security chief in Baltimore, one of the rare pre-trial detention facilities nationwide run by a state corrections department.
In an e-mail, Binetti characterized as “ongoing” the department’s assessment of operations at the detention center, which has more than 600 employees.
Martin Horn, a former head of corrections for Pennsylvania and New York City, said that as security chief, Miles would have been expected to know everything happening inside the jail.
“The question is, what did she know, when did she know it and what did she do with the information? Did she report it to her superiors?”
Maynard and O’Malley have characterized the probe that led to the indictment as a year-long collaborative effort with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office. But according to the federal case, the gang at the center of the criminal conspiracy was known to have been a dominant force in the state-run detention center at least five years earlier, in 2006.
Leaders of the General Assembly plan to return to Annapolis next month for a hearing on the jail.
Ann E. Marimow and Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.