3 officers stabbed in Jessup
Three correctional officers were treated at a hospital and released yesterday after they were stabbed by an inmate at Jessup Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison that houses many of Maryland's most dangerous and difficult-to-handle inmates, prison officials said.
Maj. Priscilla Doggett, a spokeswoman for the prison system, said the officers were stabbed in the "hands, neck and facial area" by a 29-year-old inmate from Baltimore who is serving three life sentences plus 20 years for murder, weapons and robbery charges.
She declined to identify the inmate or the officers who were injured.
The inmate was injured during the struggle and was taken to a hospital for nonlife-threatening injuries, Doggett said.
The incident occurred about 10:20 a.m. in a dayroom prisoners use for recreation in the prison's "D" building, Doggett said. The inmate assaulted an officer as the dayroom was being cleared, she said. Two other officers -- soon joined by additional staff -- quickly jumped in to subdue him, she said.
"The institution is locked down, and we will be doing searches for other weapons," Doggett said.
During lockdowns, prisoners are confined largely to their cells and are denied most privileges.
The Jessup facility -- formerly known as the Annex -- is part of a complex of state prisons in Jessup and houses about 1,200 inmates. It is adjacent to the Maryland House of Correction, where correctional officer David McGuinn was fatally stabbed in July. McGuinn was allegedly killed by inmates wielding homemade knives who had jammed old, faulty locks to their cell doors, allowing them to get out.
Two inmates, Lamar C. Harris and Lee E. Stephens, 27, were charged with first- and second-degree murder.
Prison union officials said at the time that McGuinn had been singled out by inmates who objected to his strict enforcement of rules, and that his name had been placed on a "hit list" of targeted officers. Such lists are common, officials said.
McGuinn was one of two correctional officers killed this year -- the first in Maryland since 1984. The other correctional officer, Jeffery A. Wroten, was fatally shot with his own gun as he was guarding a prisoner at a Hagerstown hospital in January.
Two of the officers injured in yesterday's attack were new hires at the Jessup prison and had been on the job for a few months.
State officials have had trouble recruiting and retaining staff at the facility, which has frequently been the scene of inmate violence.
This month, Richard Spicknall II, who shot and killed his two children seven years ago while they were strapped in their car seats, was found asphyxiated in the shower at JCI.
A source said Spicknall, whose death was ruled a homicide, was found with a rag or towel stuffed in his mouth.
Spicknall was the fourth inmate to be killed in a Maryland prison this year.
Three other inmates at the House of Correction in Jessup were fatally stabbed in the spring and summer during outbreaks of violence. In addition, several staff and prisoners have been seriously injured in inmate attacks this year.
Knives and other contraband have been a problem in the state's prisons, and records show that drugs, tobacco and cell phones have flowed freely.
Correctional officers have complained for months about staffing shortages and Ehrlich administration policies that have emphasized drug treatment and other inmate rehabilitation services at the expense, they say, of keeping institutions safe.
State corrections chief, Mary Ann Saar, became the first Cabinet secretary of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to announce her resignation, effective Jan. 17, after the governor lost his re-election bid last month.
Saar lost the support of rank-and-file correctional officers by failing to listen and respond to their concerns, said state Sen. James E. DeGrange Sr., an Anne Arundel County Democrat who chairs a subcommittee on public safety issues.
"There's no program that's going to work unless you've got a safe work environment," DeGrange said when Saar announced her resignation. "I think they needed a change of leadership to bring back confidence and stability for the people who are working in the trenches."
128 year old Maryland Jessup prison secretly closed
128 year old Maryland Jessup prison secretly closed
JESSUP, Md. - Citing inefficiency and concern over employee safety, state officials closed a 128-year-old maximum security prison on Saturday after secretly moving its inmates to other prisons over the past few weeks, according to a newspaper report.
Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Gary D. Maynard said he began working on plans to close the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup hours after a correctional officer, Edouardo F. Edouazin, was stabbed there on March 2, the (Baltimore) Sun reported Sunday.
Edouazin lived, but others involved in attacks at the prison haven’t been so lucky. Last summer, three prisoners were killed and a guard was stabbed to death by two inmates.
”The House of Correction was one of the worst in terms of officer safety and efficiency of operation,” Maynard said. ”You can’t put enough officers here to make it safe.”
Over the last two weeks, inmates were secretly moved in groups of 15 to 40 in vans and buses during the day, said John A. Rowley, acting commissioner of the Division of Correction. Inmates weren’t told until the morning of their move that they were leaving, and they weren’t told where they were going, officials said.
The last few dozen of the 842 inmates the prison had housed were to be moved Saturday. Most went to other facilities in Maryland, but 97 of the ”most disruptive” inmates went to federal prisons across the country or state facilities in Kentucky and Virginia, officials said.
Other state prisons have enough room to accommodate the influx of prisoners from the House of Correction, Maynard said. Savings on overtime expenses for officers will cover the cost of moving inmates and reimbursing other states and expenses will be covered in the department’s current budget, he said.
The maximum-security Jessup Correctional Institution and the medium-security Maryland Correctional Institution-Jessup, which are adjacent to the House of Correction, will remain open.
The prison’s 438 employees will move to other facilities in the region.
Union leaders have long complained about safety conditions at the prison.
”It’s been a dangerous prison for a long time for both inmates and staff,” said Sue Esty, interim executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 92.
The configuration of the House of Correction makes it hard to control inmates, said William W. Sondervan, who ran Maryland’s prisons from 1999 to 2003,
”The architectural design was from 1878,” Sondervan said. ”It was big and it was sprawled out. We had maximum-security inmates in dormitories and more than we should have had there.”
Gov. Martin O’Malley told the Sun he had been considering closing the prison when Maynard presented the idea to him two weeks ago.
”As long as I can remember, people have been saying we should close the House of Correction,” O’Malley said. ”I’m very proud it’s our first order of business really in cleaning up our prisons.”
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