Md. lawmaker asking state prison head to step down

BALTIMORE (WMAR) -  

A state lawmaker is calling for the head of the state's prison system to step down over the scandal at the Baltimore City Detention Center, which left 13 guards indicted -- four of them pregnant with the children of one inmate.

The federal indictment revealed sex behind bars, drugs and cell phones smuggled in by correctional officers, and much, much more.

"The indictment that came down totally discredits the information we're getting from the secretary and others in the prison system about how they're handling this problem.  They're not handling this problem; they're being handled," said Del. Michael Smigiel, a Cecil County Republican who sits on the House Judiciary Committee.

He says Secretary Gary Maynard, the head of the state's Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, needs to step aside.

"I think there has to be a house-cleaning; the governor has to step up and take responsibility for allowing his secretary to allow things to get to this point.  We're the laughing-stock of the nation with this federal indictment coming down," Del. Smigiel said.

There is no doubt the indictment paints a devastating picture of the Baltimore City Detention Center.

It alleges that Tavon White, a leader of the "Black Guerilla Family" street gang – impregnated four correctional officers and claimed to "run the jail."

It also alleges that correctional officers regularly walked in with drugs or cell phones hidden on their bodies or in their shoes.

At a news conference Tuesday announcing the indictments, Sec. Maynard said even now -- officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center are not required to remove their shoes before entering.

"That is not a common practice in all of our prisons, in the jails," he said.  "To my knowledge there's not a requirement to do that, to remove the shoes unless you have reason to believe that there was contraband being delivered in."

Wednesday, a spokesman for the department said the department is reviewing all entrance and security measures at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

He also said it was Sec. Maynard who initially requested the FBI investigation that led to the indictments.

Plus -- six months ago the secretary had concerns about the detention center, and he replaced the jail administrator there.

"Everything that happens in this department is my responsibility; whatever happens or fails to happen," Sec. Maynard said at the news conference.

Del. Smiegel also blames the legislature for not increasing penalties on inmates and correctional officers who smuggle cell phones.

Another Republian delegate, Michael Hough of Western Maryland who is also on the judiciary committee -- he said he supports Sec. Maynard and believes he's the right man to make the necessary changes.

The spokesman for the department also revealed Wednesday that the department was going to transfer Tavon White, the BGF leader, out of the Baltimore City Detention Center several months ago -- but they left him here on purpose while the FBI conducted its investigation.

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