Killer charged with breaking prison rules Inmate: The man who killed two sisters and whose double-life sentence was commuted by a former governor has been charged with three institutional violations in the last three months.

October 03, 1997|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Kate Shatzkin contributed to this article.

The convicted murderer whose double-life sentence was commuted by former Gov. William Donald Schaefer on his last day in office in 1995 has been charged with three violations of prison rules in the last three months -- alleged infractions that could hurt his chances of winning parole.

Schaefer, meanwhile, said he had no regrets yesterday about commuting to 45 years the prison sentence of Scott F. Caldwell, who was represented by Schaefer's friend, former Gov. Marvin Mandel.

"You either have a parole system or you don't," Schaefer said. "I don't think I would have done anything different in this. I don't want to change this."

While he called the murders "a tough crime," Schaefer said he was persuaded to reduce the sentence because Caldwell had been a "model" prisoner.

But prison officials said Caldwell has been less than a model inmate recently.

Caldwell was charged last month with refusing to take a test to detect drug or alcohol use and with interfering with a correctional employee at the Brockbridge Correctional Facility, sources familiar with his record said.

In July, he was charged with possessing a substance that could be used as an intoxicant, the sources said.

State parole officials likely will consider those alleged violations when they reconsider Caldwell's application for parole.

Caldwell was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences plus 11 years in prison for the murders of two teen-age sisters in

Caroline County on the Eastern Shore in 1972.

Just before leaving office, Schaefer commuted the sentence to 45 years at the request of Caldwell's attorney, Mandel, a longtime friend and political ally of Schaefer's.

Schaefer said he made the decision based in part on Mandel's assurance that Caldwell could finish his prison term in New York, where his family lives.

Schaefer said he was also influenced by the knowledge that even with the two life sentences, Caldwell was already eligible to be considered for parole in 1995.

In making his decision, Schaefer seemed to rely heavily on Mandel's assertions and did not ask for the usual in-depth review by state parole officials. He also did not advertise the pending commutation as is apparently required by the Maryland Constitution.

Largely because of Schaefer's commutation, Caldwell received conditional approval for parole from the Maryland Parole Commission in May, an order that was revoked after a protest from officials in Caroline County.

Mandel has filed a court challenge to the revocation.

That effort may be complicated by Caldwell's recent run-ins with prison officials.

According to state records, Caldwell was ordered to serve 45 days in segregation beginning in mid-September for the two charges, including his alleged refusal to submit to a drug and alcohol test. In July, Caldwell was ordered to serve 10 days in segregation for his alleged infraction involving prison contraband.

Parole commission Chairman Patricia K. Cushwa would not confirm Caldwell's recent prison record but said the commission must consider any inmate's behavior before making final a tentative parole decision.

State regulations "provide that if there has been inappropriate institutional conduct, then it is the responsibility of the commission to assess its earlier actions," Cushwa said.

Mandel declined to provide details of Caldwell's prison infractions but said they should have no bearing on the parole decision.

"My position is I don't think it has an impact. Period," Mandel said. He said Caldwell is appealing the infractions.

Caroline County State's Attorney Christian J. Jensen, who only learned of the commutation this summer, has begun an effort to overturn Schaefer's action.

A county grand jury took the unusual step of subpoenaing Schaefer to testify about his action last week. Jensen said he does not expect to bring any charges.

Pub Date: 10/03/97

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