Robinson's replacement expected to be named in week, governor says New prisons chief likely Md. law enforcement official

September 28, 1997|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

A replacement for Maryland's top prison official likely will be named within a week from within the state's law enforcement community, Gov. Parris N. Glendening said yesterday.

While the governor refused to discuss specific candidates to replace Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services Bishop L. Robinson, speculation among legislative leaders and others familiar with the state prison system yesterday focused on Col. David B. Mitchell, superintendent of Maryland State Police.

Other possible replacements mentioned yesterday include Stuart O. Simms, state secretary of juvenile justice; Richard A. Lanham Sr., commissioner of the state Division of Correction; LaMont W. Flanagan, commissioner of the state Division of Pretrial Detention and Services; and Patricia Kushwa, chairwoman of the Maryland Parole Commission.

Robinson, 70, announced Friday that he intends to submit his resignation next week and retire by November, after 10 years on the job. He plans to accept a consulting job with Lockheed Martin Corp.

Robinson has agreed to remain on the job for 30 days to help with the transition, the governor said. He also will take a leave of absence from his new job during next winter's General Assembly session to help the governor work with the state legislature.

"I don't think anyone will really be able to replace him," Glendening said in a brief interview yesterday afternoon at the Baltimore Book Festival, where he read his favorite children's book to about two dozen children.

But Glendening said the new state prisons chief "will have to be someone familiar with Maryland who is prepared to carry on our philosophies."

Those philosophies include promoting alternative sentencing programs for nonviolent offenders while keeping violent criminals in prison, the governor said. He said he does not plan to conduct a national search.

"I think we have many excellent candidates right here in Maryland," Glendening said.

Whomever is picked will face the challenge of dealing with the growing number of violent offenders with long sentences who are overwhelming the state's maximum-security prisons. Just last month, Robinson told legislators that the state ought to build a nearly $50 million maximum-security prison for more than 500 inmates on the grounds of the state's Cumberland correctional complex.

Glendening and other legislative leaders said Robinson's retirement announcement Friday caught them by surprise, even though 18 months ago Robinson had talked about retiring. At that time, Glendening persuaded Robinson to stay.

"It has caught all of us off-guard," said Sen. Ida G. Ruben, the Montgomery Democrat who is chairwoman of the subcommittee that oversees the public safety budget. "He's going to be a hard person to replace."

Still, a number of names were mentioned yesterday. Most prominent among them was Mitchell, who was the police chief in Prince George's County while Glendening was county executive and was appointed state police superintendent by Glendening.

"I have talked to a couple of people in the Maryland General Assembly and most of us believe superintendent Mitchell will be picked," said Del. Howard P. Rawlings, the Baltimore Democrat who is chairman of the Appropriations Committee. "He's an experienced law enforcement officer and I believe he would make an excellent choice."

Pub Date: 9/28/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.