Unrest at Balto. County jail quelled Guards at overcrowded jail put down brief disturbance.

November 29, 1991|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,Evening Sun Staff Larry Carson contributed to this story.

A disturbance at the Baltimore County Detention Center was put down by detention officers last night as a back-up force from the Towson District surrounded the complex.

Nearly a dozen heavily armed police officers were ready to move in if needed, but the disturbance was brought under control without their assistance, police said.

Officials said inmates in one part of the jail refused to shut their cell doors, making it impossible for guards to secure the inmates for the night.

Last night's disturbance was the second incident at the badly overcrowded facility in about two weeks. On Nov. 13 and 14, nearly 100 inmates protested the overcrowding by refusing to eat lunch. The protest was resolved peacefully.

Center Administrator James Dean said today the building's capacity is 497, compared with its designed capacity of 326 when it opened in 1982. Today, there are 541 men incarcerated in the building, in the 400 block of Kenilworth Drive. Including the old county jail a few blocks away, the county system has a capacity of 569 men and 67 women. As of last night, the two complexes contained 854 men, 84 women and 17 juveniles, police said. Dean said all was quiet today.

Police said the disturbance began around 9:15 p.m. in Pod 4-C. Each pod contains 20 cells, a dining area and walking space, said police. Each cell is designed to hold one inmate, but the overcrowding requires two to sleep on bunk beds and one on a mattress on the cell floor.

As inmates resisted efforts to close the cells, wet toilet tissue was thrown into a control center. Police said a fire set in a trash can sent smoke drifting through the pod.

The shift commander requested the aid of county police. But the disturbance was put down by detention officers, and the pod cell doors were shut. A complete lock-down was put into effect, police said.

A fight between two inmates during the disturbance resulted in one of them being slightly injured, police said. He was sent to a hospital, where he was treated and released.

The incident will be investigated by the Sheriff's Department, which operates the center.

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