Weapons not found in county jail search New sheriff in Carroll changes several policies

December 18, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Monday's shakedown at the Carroll County Detention Center had correctional officers searching every inmate and every nook of the facility for contraband that might be used to harm prisoners or employees, officials said.

No weapons were found, but prescription drugs and a few lighters were confiscated, said Lt. Mark Peregoy, administrative

BTC director for the detention center.

The Maryland Commission on Correctional Standards, an administrative arm of the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, requires semiannual searches, but Carroll jail officials may do as many as 20 a year, Peregoy said.

"We may not search every unit each time, but we do frequent shakedowns to protect inmates and officers," said Peregoy, a veteran of 17 years at the jail.

Tighter security at the detention center coincides with changes being made in the Sheriff's Department.

Peregoy could recall no jail employee being injured by a makeshift weapon.

He said homemade knives -- tape around an end of a nail file, for example -- have been found during shakedowns.

Contraband is always a concern. Inmates on work release generally are the culprits.

Inmates often want to have a weapon as a "status tool," Peregoy said.

"They use it to protect themselves or to coerce others into giving up food or items from the commissary," he said.

Daily searches of inmates returning from work release are routine, but prisoners have become ingenious at smuggling contraband, correctional officials say.

Mason Waters, the warden in Carroll County, has ordered a tighter policy, Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning said.

Work release inmates caught smuggling cigarettes into the jail previously were given a verbal warning, said Tregoning. A written warning was given to second offenders, and if caught a third time, they were taken off work release, he said.

"The initial step, the verbal warning, has been eliminated," Tregoning said.

Smoking is not permitted in the jail. Possession of cigarettes can lead to haggling and fights between inmates, Peregoy said.

He said 99 percent of the fights -- an average of more than one a week -- are between inmates, "but officers have to go in [cell units] to break them up."

In another Sheriff's Office change, "Heroin Kills" stickers may be displayed on the rear bumper of patrol cars.

Former Sheriff John H. Brown had rejected joining the "Heroin Kills" campaign.

Tregoning also is encouraging deputies and detention center staff to answer questions from the media and the public rather than defer all questions to him.

He has authorized a daily detention center report, which lists the number of inmates and provides the name, charge and bond information for anyone incarcerated the previous 24 hours.

"The sheriff and the warden want the public to know what is happening," Peregoy said. "Under John Brown, all questions had to be answered by him."

Pub Date: 12/18/98

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