State to clean house at jail Bostick, 3 others to be ousted in July 1 takeover.

June 19, 1991|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Evening Sun Staff *B

The state has decided to clean house at the Baltimore City Jail when it takes over July 1, starting with the firing of Commissioner Barbara A. Bostick and her two top assistants, sources said.

State public safety officials last week told Bostick and her two associate commissioners, Willie Manning and Michael Tidwell, that they would not be offered jobs in the state regime, sources said. At least one other ranking official, a major, is also being pushed out, sources said.

The General Assembly this year approved Gov. William Donald Schaefer's proposal to take over the jail. Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke supported the move as a way of easing the city's growing financial problems.

The state will spend at least $40 million on the jail this year alone. Legislative analysts predicted the jail will cost as much as $53 million annually by 1996.

State public safety spokesman Leonard A. Sipes declined to comment on the personnel moves. One source familiar with the situation said state public safety Secretary Bishop L. Robinson simply wanted his own people running the jail.

Bostick, who was appointed by Schmoke in late 1988, would not comment on her situation, according to her assistant at the jail.

Less than two weeks before the takeover, state officials have not named anyone to run the jail. Bernard Smith, an assistant warden at the Maryland Penitentiary, is thought to be a contender for the renamed job of jail warden.

The changes at the top could be the first of many at the jail as it becomes part of the state system. About 840 employees at the jail will lose their status as city employees and will be placed on six months probation with the state. By the end of the year, the state will either hire or fire the employees, Sipes said.

Bostick, 38, was thought to be the first woman to run a large municipal jail system in the country. Bostick has struggled to keep the jail's population below the cap of about 2,700 inmates established by a federal judge concerned with conditions there.

The jail has come under criticism from various sources during Bostick's tenure, for alleged poor medical care, inadequate training of correctional officers and lenient early-release policies.

Some state officials said private ly that the state is scrambling to have things ready for the July 1 deadline.

"Here we are less than two weeks away from the transition, and there's been very little published in the way of regulations or procedures," one official said. "There really hasn't been enough time."

Schaefer apparently caught some public safety officials by surprise when he proposed the takeover in his State of the State address in January.

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