Inmate fatally stabbed at Jessup is identified

Prince George's man, 23, had been jailed since 18

lockdown continues

January 13, 2001|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

State Division of Correction officials identified yesterday the inmate fatally stabbed at the Maryland House of Correction Annex Thursday as a Prince George's County man who has spent his entire adult life in state prison.

Ray Anthony Hamlet, 23, was stabbed in the chest Thursday evening at the maximum-security prison in Jessup, which recently has been criticized by correction officers and the public over security lapses, increased violence and cutbacks in the number of surveillance and patrol posts.

The death occurred less than three weeks after state legislators toured the prison and were told by correction officials that the facility was secure, though more training and better pay were needed for staff.

Correction officers apparently did not see who attacked Hamlet when inmates moved from the dining hall to the housing buildings about 6:40 p.m., officials said. But officers noticed when other inmates appeared to be helping Hamlet, said Correction spokesman David B. Towers.

Hamlet was pronounced dead about 25 minutes later by a prison doctor.

The inmate had been serving an 8 1/2 -year sentence for an armed robbery in Prince George's County. The Suitland man was 18 when he began serving the state prison sentence, court records show. He was 16 when he was arrested and charged as an adult by Maryland State Police for possessing drugs with intent to distribute, according to court documents.

While in state custody in 1997, Hamlet was charged with possessing marijuana. He then was sent to the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center, also known as Supermax. He was transferred to the Annex in December, Towers said.

Hamlet, whose sentence began in August 1995, was scheduled to be released in August 2003.

The Annex remained under lockdown yesterday - meaning inmates were confined to their cells and visits were canceled, Towers said.

State police and internal investigators were reviewing surveillance tapes from the dining hall and interviewing potential witnesses to the fatal stabbing, said Towers.

An inmate-made knife, known as a shank, was recovered after the stabbing, and officers continued a prisonwide search yesterday, Towers said. "We're searching every cell," he said. "We're searching the whole jail."

Veteran officers and residents who live near the Annex have criticized the infrequency of thorough, facility-wide searches. Officers claim that the lack of "shake-downs" allows inmates to stockpile contraband, including weapons, drugs and escape paraphernalia.

Last year, several inmates, including convicted murderer Harold Dean, were caught in an attempt to rappel over the prison's fence by attaching ropes and hooks to an unmanned security tower. The inmates had stockpiled 150 feet of braided rope - made from 92 tubes of dental floss - a hacksaw, grappling hooks stolen from a broken prison dishwasher and pipe supports.

A special response team, which routinely conducts searches, also was reduced by one position last year as part of a larger plan to reduce overtime staffing at the prison, Annex records show.

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