Inmate is fatally stabbed in altercation in state's `Supermax' prison complex

Victim serving 5 years for attempted murder

June 10, 2000|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

An inmate in Maryland's most secure prison, known as "Supermax," was fatally stabbed six times in the chest early yesterday during an altercation in an indoor recreation area, state police said.

Michael Allen, 20, who was serving five years for attempted murder, was pronounced dead at 10:40 a.m. in the prison infirmary. The attack occurred about 10:15 a.m. inside the downtown complex on East Madison Street, where 309 inmates are held in isolated cells.

Prison officials said the slaying is the first at Supermax since it opened in 1989 to hold the state's most dangerous detainees. It is located across the street from the Maryland Penitentiary.

When Supermax first opened, strict rules prevented detainees from close contact. They ate in their 65-square-foot cells, had no access to jobs or programs and could only leave their cells one at a time while under escort.

Yesterday, Allen was with five other inmates in a recreation area when he was stabbed with what officials recovered and described as a homemade knife. Corrections officers were outside a door, watching the inmates through a small window. Officials said it was not clear what the officers saw.

David Towers, a state prison spokesman, said he was unable to say whether policies had changed regarding inmate fraternization.

But he said the Maryland Division of Correction will review its regulations, "and if warranted, appropriate adjustments will be made. ... A policy change must have occurred to let six inmates out at one time. That will be reviewed."

Maryland State Police are conducting the investigation because the killing occurred on state property. They said no arrests have been made, but the five inmates who were in the recreation area are suspects and are being questioned.

Allen was convicted in November 1996 of robbing and stabbing a man in the neck on East Pratt Street. The wounded man pulled a .38-caliber handgun from his shoulder holster and shot Allen in the right arm. Allen was to have been released in June 2001. Allen has no fixed address, and his family could not be located last night.

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