State reduces number of inmates without trials Officials shrink list from 93 in July to 15

August 16, 1991|By Brian Sullam

State officials moved one step closer yesterday to resolving the problem of inmates at the Baltimore Detention Center who do not have trial dates.

LaMont Flanagan, the acting commissioner of the state's Division of Pretrial Detention and Services, said that by yesterday evening the review had winnowed the list of inmates without trial dates to 15.

"We are continuing with our continuous and consistent review," he said yesterday. "As long as we continue to do this, we should not have a recurrence of the Henn case."

On July 11, when state officials began the systematic review of all jail inmates, they discovered 93 inmates without trial dates on their jail files, including Martin R. Henn, who had been in jail for nearly a year.

Mr. Henn, 54, had been jailed on July 16, 1990, on charges of malicious destruction of property and arson and was lost in the system for nine months because of mistakes in the judicial system. He was released Wednesday to a half-way house for treatment of his alcoholism.

Mr. Henn's presence was discovered when the state, which took the jail over from the city on July 1, began a review of jail records to deter mine which inmates had trial dates that were not recorded on their files and which did not have trial dates at all.

Sixty-five of the inmates had been assigned trial dates by Wednesday.

The group includes a man who was jailed in March on traffic violations and had not been assigned a court date. The man is now scheduled to appear before a judge on Sept. 12.

Jail officials spent yesterday working on the remaining 28 inmates without trial dates and obtained trial dates for 11 of them.

Of the 17 cases that remained, two were easily eliminated. Jail officials discovered one case had an inaccurate case number and did not relate to an actual inmate. In the other case, the prosecutors decided to drop charges because they were minor and the suspect had been in jail a month, said Leonard A. Sipes, Jr., spokesman for the division.

Six of the remaining cases are awaiting paperwork from the district courts, another six cases are awaiting warrants that will then be served on the inmates and the remaining three inmates are serving time in the jail or in state prison but face additional charges.

Mr. Sipes said the review is time-consuming because it requires using the jail's antiquated computer system, then checking the records of four court systems. Then a manual search must be made of all the court folders pertaining to the inmates.

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