Family seeking explanation for inmate's death

August 25, 2002|By Ariel Sabar | Ariel Sabar,SUN STAFF

A 39-year-old prisoner died Friday from injuries he received in an assault a week ago at a state facility that prepares inmates for release, an official with the state Division of Corrections confirmed yesterday.

Douglas Smith of Baltimore, a burglary convict just three months shy of release, was attacked at the Baltimore Pre-Release Unit on Aug. 18 under circumstances that state officials have so far refused to explain.

Ronald Leverette, a spokesman for the corrections division, said an internal investigation was continuing. He would not offer details of the assault.

Smith's brother, David O. Smith, a Baltimore businessman, said in an interview last night that a prison caseworker told the family that Smith was beaten in the head with a stool while sleeping in the pre-release unit's dormitory. About 180 prisoners live in the facility.

He said that the family wasn't notified of the attack until two days later and that it has been kept in the dark about the progress of the investigation. "They've been evasive with us all week," he said. "We'd just like to know what happened."

Leverette said that in August 1997, Smith began serving a 3 1/2 -year sentence for burglary and larceny. He was released early but was sent back last year for violating probation, according to Leverette and David Smith.

David Smith said that his brother was conscious after the attack and that rescue workers checked him into Mercy Medical Center at 10 a.m. Aug. 18. But he said his brother was moved to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center 10 hours later when his condition worsened. He died there on Friday.

Leverette, the corrections spokesman, would not comment on David Smith's account of the assault.

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