Sheriff cracks down on inmate cleanliness

Work-release prisoners detained after failing bunk-area inspection

June 25, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Forty-five inmates on work-release from the Carroll County Detention Center were late for their jobs yesterday, after failing to pass an early-morning inspection of their bunk area, jail officials said.

They were detained as part of a crackdown by Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning, who said yesterday that the inmates had been warned several times in the past week that they would be held accountable "consistently and uniformly" for making beds and keeping their personal items and living space in order.

`Some grumbling'

"There was some grumbling, but they quickly realized they were not going out to work until everyone complied," Tregoning said. "All were allowed to go to work within about three hours."

Cpl. Walter Royster, the jail's work-release supervisor, said some employers called to ask where their inmate employees were.

"After I explained why they were late for work, the callers were satisfied," Royster said. "No one lost their jobs."

The crackdown on cleanliness is theoretical and practical, said 1st Lt. Mark Peregoy, the sheriff's administrative officer.

"It's the broken-window theory," said. "Find a broken window, and if you don't fix it, soon all the windows will be broken."

During a search of inmates' quarters at the jail last week, officials said, they found food wrappers, debris and contraband such as pens, pencils, correction fluid, cigarettes and lighters.

Enforcement of the shape-up-or-pay-the-consequences policy rests with commanders on each shift. Royster will make the inspections and mete out penalties. He estimated that 90 percent of the inmates comply with Detention Center rules.

Those who do not comply could be given written reprimands or lose work-release status, good-time credit on their sentences or commissary privileges, or they could be placed in isolation, Tregoning said.

`Appropriate consequences'

"What we are doing is managing an institution more efficiently and orderly, holding the inmates accountable for their behavior," Tregoning said. "And we will apply the appropriate consequences if they don't comply."

Not all of the enforcement is negative, the sheriff said.

To encourage compliance, Tregoning said, inmates who have earned the privilege will have 30 minutes a day in the jail's outside exercise area beginning Monday.

About 75 inmates are eligible to use the exercise area, said Maj. Steve Turvin, assistant warden. Those on work-release are not, because they get outdoors every day.

Inmate population low

The jail had 164 inmates yesterday, the fewest in several years, he said.

The fenced outdoor area hasn't been used for several years, since county workers and courthouse employees complained of inmates making rude remarks as they walked by.

Weather permitting, the exercise area will be used between 6 p.m. and 8: 15 p.m., when few people are walking by, Tregoning said. Prisoners violating conduct rules outdoors will lose the privilege, he said.

Public safety will be maintained by placing a correctional officer in the exercise area. In addition, the jail's newest staff member -- Oli, a police dog trained for street patrol and drug detection -- will patrol the outside perimeter with her handler, Deputy Kirk Shiloh, Tregoning said.

The dog, donated by a sheriff's employee, will graduate from the Baltimore County K-9 training academy tomorrow and will be on duty Monday, he said.

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