Are the Inmates Running the Jails in Maryland?

The front page of today’s Washington Post tells us that the Prince George’s Facility has come under scrutiny after the sudden death of Police murder suspect, Ronnie L. White.

The Post lists a number of correction officers who have been investigated, suspended and even jailed for wrong doings. One 13 year veteran was convicted on second degree assault after he beat a woman so badly that he broke her rib. That was not his first violent outburst however. In the late ’90s his then wife had to get three protective orders issued against him.

In 2004, he pleaded guilty to breaking a woman’s rib. The woman whose rib he broke was pregnant with his child. A judge put him on probation for that assault and ordered him to take anger management classes. The child that the woman was carrying was not so lucky. She miscarried days afer the beating.

The jail which incarcerates 1500 inmates, is said to be overcrowded by Government reports. The jail was built to hold 1330 inmates. One hundred and seventy extra inmates is hardly a serious “overcrowding” problem. The reported number of correction officers at 450, means that the ratio of imates to officers is not even 4:1. Compare that to a place like Riker’s Island in New York City where the ratio of inmates to officers is probably closer to 25:1 and you will see that the officers in Maryland should not have many reasons to complain.

Of course, they should not have any reason to break the law either, but they do. Take the case of Renardo Humphrey, for instance. He was jailed this week after being convicted of armed robbery. Along with four others, he held up a couple of teenagers. Then there is Officer Kenneth Paul St. Clair, who joined the Department in 2004. This oxygen thief was convicted of second degree child abuse involving an 11 month old baby boy.

According to Police reports, the baby suffered multiple rib fractures, a skull fracture, internal bleeding, bruises on his face, chest, forehead and a bite mark on his shoulder. If I ever receive a call from a telemarketer tying to solicit money from me to support the fine upstanding members of the Prince George’s Correction Department, I will make sure I tell him the story of the the little baby boy that was brutalized by one of his clients.

You may wonder why supervisors do not take more action and do not closely monitor the staff who apparently have a lot of anger management problems. Some Departments admitted that they only do background checks when officers are going for promotion. Therfore, if an officer is prone to beating up little babies and pregnant women, he just might go about his merry way without ever coming to notice – just so long as he does not seek promotion.

It would seem that all is not well with the Maryland Penal system. Perhaps a good overhaul is called for. It is not too much for society to expect that those who are entrusted with great authority do not abuse that authority. If they do and start behaving like those who have been removed from society, then they too should suffer the same fate.

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