Warden Vacancy May Stay Unfilled For A Year

Budget Cuts Blamed For Delay In Filling Post

December 29, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

The warden's position at the Carroll County Detention Center could remain vacant until the end of next year, Sheriff John Brown said Friday.

"I hate to do it, but I may wait until this time next year to fill it," Brown said. "There's no money in the coffers right now. I hate to let that important position go unfilled, but it saves us (morethan) $37,000."

The sheriff said he initially planned to fill the post within a few months after former warden John E. "Jack" Hinton of Westminster resigned in September.

Hinton contended he was asked to resign from the $37,000-a-year post because money-saving scheduling changes he made were unpopular with the guards. Brown has declined to discuss the situation in detail.

Leaving the post vacant was among the casualties in the detention center's most recent round of budget cuts. Browntrimmed about $100,000 from the center's budget for fiscal year 1992, which ends June 30.

Also cut was money for new uniforms and equipment, food purchases, food service supplies and overtime.

"Let's face it -- there's absolutely nowhere else to cut," Brown said. "We've cut everywhere. It's an extremely bad time."

He said his employees, like other county workers, must take four furlough days before July 1. The center has 26 full-time guards and two temporary employees.

A state Department of Corrections spokesman would not comment on the situation at the county's detention center. He said the department's policy is to decline comment on local jurisdictions.

Commissioner President Donald I. Dell said he is not concerned about leaving the post vacant.

"(Brown) feels like he has enough staff to do the job without filling that position," Dell said. "I don't think there is a safety concern."

Brown said leaving the post vacant doesn't pose any safety threats for the inmates or the community. The center, which is set to be expanded, can hold about 120 inmates.

"We have very competent people up there," he said. "There are no safety problems. So far, things are going along well."

State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman agreed, saying the center has gotten by without a warden for several reasons: one of the lowest jail populations in some time; some "excellent" shift commanders who have handled an additional work load; and the assistant, Capt. Steve Tervin, is an "excellent fellow."

Tervin, who has been helping run the detention center and has been with the department 11 years, "has the expertise and experience" to run things, Brown said.

Although the warden post is an importantposition, it is largely an administrative one, Brown said. But, he said, the situation needs to be evaluated day-by-day.

"Running a detention center is not like running a store," Brown said.

"It's an unusual animal. Any time you run a jail or police department, there'salways an unknown factor that could happen."

He said the positionwill have to be filled eventually, adding the jail cannot continue to run without a warden. That, he said, would be like operating a Maryland penitentiary without a warden.

"Certainly, the jail will needan administrator to make decisions for everyone," Hickman said.

"The longer he can keep (the post) open, it will save quite a bit of money for taxpayers."

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