Johnson is alleging harassment

August 19, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

Terrence G. Johnson's lawyer said yesterday that his client has been harassed by prison officials at the Maryland House of Correction since winning an early release last week.

Melvin White, Johnson's lawyer, said the 31-year-old convicted killer was told he faced a conduct infraction, was berated in an extensive psychological exam and was given revised orders. Those orders included a requirement that he repeat drug treatment and transfer to Carroll County before he could be released next February.

"Something is going on at the Maryland House of Correction that is not right," Mr. White wrote to prison officials Aug. 17. "Is this the newfound spirit of cooperation that we discussed last week? I certainly hope not."

Mr. White said yesterday that he has learned that the transfer to the Carroll County laundry facility and the requirement for drug treatment, which Johnson completed years ago, have since been scratched from Johnson's prerelease program.

The psychological exam was required as part of the reclassification process, a first step toward Johnson's release, he said.

Still, Mr. White said, the incidents make him wonder about the motives of those assigned to oversee his client.

"It raises all kinds of suspicions in our minds about the genuineness of the good faith efforts on the part of the DOC [Division of Correction] to make for a smooth process for Mr. Johnson's release," he said.

Richard B. Rosenblatt, deputy counsel for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said that the infraction -- for showing up late for a 5:45 a.m. prison bus -- was dismissed after a brief hearing. He would not comment on the other matters.

"I don't want to get into a spitting contest with them, it just serves no useful purpose," he said. "I don't want things to fall through, and I'm sure he [Johnson] doesn't want that either."

He also said prison officials are working to make sure Johnson meets Parole Commission requirements set on Aug. 10. Those requirements call for Johnson to complete 90 days of work release and be transferred to a prerelease facility.

The decision, which will shave 2 1/2 years off Johnson's sentence, came after a highly publicized two-day hearing before Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Warren B. Duckett Jr. During the hearing, Judge Duckett said Johnson had won his respect and admiration.

Johnson's lawyers had filed a petition asking Judge Duckett to order his release, saying that the commission violated Johnson's rights to due process and equal protection by denying him parole three times since 1991.

Johnson was sentenced to 25 years after he was convicted of manslaughter in the death of one Prince George's County police officer. He was found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity in the death of another.

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