Maryland lawmakers may launch probe of prison gang

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Local,Maryland,Crime,Andy Brownfield

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland lawmakers may appoint a special committee to investigate how a prison gang apparently took over a Baltimore jail, ran a contraband smuggling operation and impregnated four prison guards.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George's and Calvert counties, said lawmakers met Thursday to discuss the allegations and what to do about the guards who helped the inmates run their drug and contraband operations.

"We need clarity," Miller said. "We need calmness. We need a sincere effort to find the correct answers, but most importantly, we need a solution to the problem with the entire personnel system."

Thirteen female corrections officers were among 25 people named last month in a federal indictment alleging that the Black Guerrilla Family gang ran a drug- and contraband-smuggling ring out of the Baltimore City Detention Center. The gang's leader, Tavon White, also got four female corrections officers pregnant -- one of them twice. Two of the guards got tattoos of White's name -- one on her neck, the other on her wrist.

The 13 indicted officers were suspended without pay.

Lawmakers said they're still discussing who should investigate the prison scandal.

"I think what we need to do is coordinate between the House and the Senate," Miller said. "We want to make sure everyone is represented. It will probably be a standing committee."

Miller's call for changes in the way corrections officers are hired echoed concerns previously raised by Gov. Martin O'Malley.

O'Malley characterized the allegations against the guards as "ugly" and "shocking," saying the state needs to overhaul the way it hires corrections officers and change how people enter and exit the jail, parts of which are more than 100 years old.

Officers allegedly smuggled cigarettes, drugs, prescription medication and cellphones into the jail in their underwear, shoes and hair.

Court documents portray the Black Guerrilla Family as a highly structured and organized gang, collecting dues from members and levies from nonmembers, which would be funneled to leaders outside of the prison.

abrownfield@washingtonexaminer.com

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Andy Brownfield

Examiner Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner