Things got crazy last year at the Baltimore City Detention Center. Guards had affairs with prisoners, cell phones got smuggled in, and drugs were rampant. It seemed like a literal example of the prisoners running the prison. Now, according to recent testimony from a former jailhouse officer, it turns out that was even more true than we thought. If the allegations are true, then jail management was actually holding meetings with the Black Guerrilla Family, the most powerful gang in the prison, to get tips on how to improve jail operations.
“The cellular device you are using has been identified as contraband and is illegal to possess under Maryland statute 9-417,” it says. “All attempts at communications are being monitored and recorded and may be used administratively and in a court of law.”
In addition to the updated camera system already in place — one that monitors corrections officers as well as inmates — lawmakers have suggeste polygraph tests for prospective guards, the use of body scanners, penalties in the form of increased jail time for inmates caught smuggling cell phones, and “ways to eliminate the sex between officers and inmates.”
So, the Baltimore City Detention Center had a pretty bad year, what with those allegations of drug smuggling and inmate-guard sex and all that. But the best thing about a disaster is the opportunity it provides to do better next time. If only two Baltimore corrections officers get pregnant by an inmate in 2014, well, that’ll be significant progress!
When it came to light that the Baltimore City Detention Center was the site of a scandal worthy of being adapted into a blockbuster crime thriller — featuring corrupt corrections officers aiding incarcerated gang leaders, and even sleeping with them — Maryland Corrections Secretary Gary D. Maynard was on the shortlist of people to blame.
But in a very persuasive opinion piece atMaryland Reporter, Barry Rascovar argues not only that Maynard is not to blame for the corruption that pervaded the Baltimore jail, but that he should be given full credit for putting it to rout — and that in fact the unfortunate political position he now finds himself in is a testament to his honesty, dedication, and class.
As Rascovar would have it, when Maynard’s department first uncovered evidence of corruption among BCDC staff, he could have taken a politically convenient approach: made a few arrests and held a self-congratulatory press conference. Instead, he invited the FBI to aid in a deeper investigation aimed at fixing the system once and for all. Rascovar credits “grandstanding” from the FBI (specifically a “flashy press conference” that downplayed Maryland’s role in initiating the probe) with making Maynard look like he was sitting on his hands, or worse, oblivious to the criminal activity.
When Derrick Jones of Aberdeen received orders to ship off to Afghanistan in mid-October with the Maryland National Guard, he may have thought, “Just in the nick of the time.” Jones is a corrections officer who had recently become a suspect in the outrageous corruption scandal at the Baltimore City Detention Center.
Allegedly, Black Guerrilla Family leader Tavon White (who, in case you forgot, allegedly ran his criminal operations from jail with the full cooperation of several corrections officers — four of whom he fathered children with) referred to Jones has his “homeboy” in intercepted phone conversations.
Prison officials won’t confirm that these photos are legit, but it certainly looks like an inmate at the Baltimore City Detention Center is posting photos to his Instagram account on a contraband cellphone that we’ve gone to the trouble of training dogs to sniff out. The pictures aren’t particularly exciting — one man or several men standing around in prison — but it’s one more embarrassment for a system embroiled in a scandal so terrible it’s almost silly.