Guard pushes passage of hostage bill

January 29, 1992|By Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- A correctional officer held hostage during last summer's uprising at the Maryland Penitentiary asked a Senate committee yesterday to approve a bill to impose sentences of up to 30 years for inmates who participate in such crimes.

Lt. William K. Pitts was one of five men taken hostage by prisoners. He and two others were released within an hour, but two were kept in a C Dormitory cell for 23 hours.

No one can know what his co-workers, Larry Hughes and Gary Wooten, endured on that hot July day, Mr. Pitts told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

While the inmates were charged with false imprisonment, the crime is part of Maryland common law and carries no sentencing guidelines, Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Nathan told the committee.

The bill -- proposed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer -- would make such hostage-taking punishable by a sentence of up to 30 years. It also would require that the sentence run consecutively, meaning that it would be added to the time the inmate currently is serving.

All correctional workers would be covered under the proposed law. Three employee unions testified in favor of the bill, which drew no opposition.

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