Stokes seeks investigation in death of 2 inmates

Md. official says women died of natural causes

August 20, 1999|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Questioning the medical treatment and safety at the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center, mayoral candidate Carl Stokes called on the governor yesterday to investigate the deaths of two inmates.

Patricia S. Gardner died Aug. 7 and Bernadette E. Johnson died June 19 after showing symptoms of drug withdrawal, Stokes said during a news conference outside the center.

He said he wants a review of all deaths at the jail over the past 18 months because he believes the women should have received treatment.

"I am appalled," Stokes said. "Either the medical staff or central booking staff is not adequately trained."

The candidate said the families of the two women asked that he publicize the issue.

Lamont W. Flanagan, commissioner for pretrial detention services, who runs Central Booking, said he did not want to become caught up in the city's mayoral election campaign. But he said Stokes is mistaken about the deaths.

Flanagan said that the inmates were taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where they died.

In a statement, Flanagan said "no inmate has died in the booking facility during 1999. There was no foul play or signs of trauma in the deaths of the two young women Mr. Stokes spoke about. They died of natural causes."

In a letter sent yesterday, Stokes asked Gov. Parris N. Glendening to investigate the city lockup, which is run by the state. City government has no authority over its operations.

Michael Morrill, a Glendening spokesman, said the governor "would be happy to receive any facts from Carl Stokes or anyone else and have it reviewed by the appropriate agency."

Despite concerns about Central Booking, Stokes said that if he became mayor, he would not seek to bring the facility back under city control.

In another development in the mayoral race, City Councilman Martin O'Malley, one of Stokes' leading opponents, received an endorsement from the Hispanic Business Association.

President Jose Flores said he believed O'Malley would work the hardest for the Hispanic community.

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