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Opinion: Columnists

Gregory Kane: Maryland prison scandal shows gender matters

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Opinion,Gregory Kane,Columnists

Earth to Gary D. Maynard: gender does matter.

Maynard is the Maryland secretary of public safety and correctional services. It's his department that runs the Baltimore City Detention Center.

And it's his department that is responsible for the hot mess the BCDC has become.

What happened at the BCDC was this: The Black Guerilla Family, one of the nation's most notorious and violent prison gangs, ended up virtually running the facility.

BGF members allegedly got corrections officers to smuggle drugs, cell phones and other contraband into the facility. Then gang members allegedly sold those cell phones and drugs to other inmates.

You read that right: Members of a criminal gang allegedly committed crimes and made money while they were incarcerated.

Last week, U.S. attorneys handed down indictments against 25 people and charged them with racketeering conspiracy, drug possession with intent to distribute and money laundering in connection with the smuggling operation.

Seven of those indicted were BCDC inmates. Five were friends or relatives on the street. And 13 were corrections officers. You read that right too: 13. The group of people that comprised the greatest number of those indicted are corrections officers.

And all of them are women. Four of those women are alleged to have had sex with Tavon White, who fancies himself the BGF shot-caller at the BCDC and was heard boasting on a recorded cell phone conversation that he, not the corrections officers, ran the facility.

"This is my jail," White allegedly said. "You understand that? I'm dead serious. I make every final call in this jail."

All four of those women that allegedly had sex with White became pregnant with his children, one of them twice.

The 13 female corrections officers, federal officials said, essentially handed over control of the BCDC to White and the BGF. But Maynard doesn't see gender as the issue.

According to a news report, "Maynard....said that the sex of the officers was not the issue. It is not uncommon, he said, for detention centers across the country to employ women. The issue, he said, was the particular group of "bad actors," who were strategically targeted and were willing to break the law."

In short, Maynard went for the politically correct answer in a situation where political correctness isn't what we need.

You can bet BGF members know what an issue gender is. News reports reveal how they manage to get as many as 13 female corrections officers involved in smuggling, sex and corruption.

Corrections department investigators discovered BGF documents outlining that new recruits are trained to target female officers with 'low self-esteem, insecurities and certain physical attributes.' Gang members believe such officers can be easily manipulated."

Even the very liberal state Sen. Lisa Gladden of Baltimore recognizes the role gender played in the corruption at BCDC. Her take is quite different from Maynard's.

According to news reports, Gladden said "the large percentage of female corrections officers at the detention center contributed to the problem. 'A lot of times, they become smitten with the inmates. (The inmates) talk really sweet and say really nice things, and the CO's fall for them. You need to have a bunch of rough, ugly men.'"

A bunch of rough, ugly, male corrections officers not prone to taking any nonsense off the BGF or anyone else is just what is needed right now. Can we count on Maynard, Mr. PC, to recognize that?

The outlook is bleak. Maynard mentioned "bad actors," without acknowledging the obvious: 13 bad actors seems like a pretty high number, especially for one facility.

And the fact that they are all of one gender says that somebody dropped the ball when it came to staffing corrections officers at the BCDC.

Washington Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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