The executive director of the Maryland Commission on Correctional Standards has been named warden of the Harford County Detention Center.
Paul S. Hastmann, 46, from Sykesville, will take control of the daily operation of the jail Dec. 6, answering directly to Sheriff Robert E. Comes.
After earning his degree in sociology and criminology at the University of Maryland, Mr. Hastmann undertook graduate study criminal justice at the University of Baltimore.
Mr. Hastmann joined the state correctional system in 1969 and has served as executive director of the corrections panel since 1985.
"It's all I ever wanted and all I've ever done," said Mr. Hastmann outside Tuesday's County Council meeting in Bel Air, minutes before he was introduced to the council.
Mr. Hastmann, who will earn between $45,344 and $60,154 annually, said he is not concerned by the county executive's plan to take control of the Detention Center away from the sheriff's office.
"I can't allow that decision to affect my performance," he said. "I will come in here and do my job unencumbered [by] politics."
The county jail has been under fire from County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann since April, when the county paid $400,000 to the family of an inmate who died in a holding cell there in March 1992.
The death was initially labeled a suicide, but questions arose about the handling of evidence and an autopsy suggested the inmate, William M. Ford, 30, might have been killed.
Mr. Hastmann said he will assume his new post with no agendas, seeking to balance security, custody and control with compassion, caring and programs for the inmates at the Detention Center.
"I've been hired to be warden and not to make judgments," he said.
Mr. Hastmann added that his entire career has been geared to being a correctional professional and he won't change his philosophy now.
He began working his way through the state correctional system as a counselor at the state penitentiary for two years. He served as a work-release representative for four years and joined the prerelease program in 1975.
After two years in the office of the secretary for the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. Mr. Hastmann became assistant director of correctional standards in and director in 1985.
Since 1980, Mr. Hastmann has worked as a consultant for the American Correctional Association, a Laurel firm that accredits correctional facilities across the nation.
He is the immediate past president of the 600-member Maryland Criminal Justice Association and a member of the Professional Corrections Association and the American Jail Association. He serves on a number of committees for the American Correctional Association.
Mr. Hastmann said his past work inspecting correctional facilities is a advantage in his role as warden. He said he knows some staff members at the Detention Center.
The Harford jail has received a recognition award from the Maryland Commission on Correctional Standards for five consecutive years, he said.
About half the 24 jails in the state earn that award for 100 percent compliance with state standards, but none has won it five times since the award was instituted five years ago, he added.