Prison guard stabbed in Jessup

September 06, 2006|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,Sun reporter

An inmate stabbed a correctional officer at a maximum-security state prison in Jessup yesterday as a group of inmates was being led to the cafeteria for breakfast, authorities said.

The officer - whose name was withheld - sustained nonlife-threatening injuries in the attack at the Jessup Correctional Institution, formerly known as the House of Correction Annex, and was treated and released at a local medical center, said spokesman George Gregory.

The latest attack on a correctional officer comes after state officials announced last week a $7 million infusion of funds to improve security at Maryland prisons. Correctional officers unions and political leaders representing parts of the state where prisons are located have sharply criticized state officials for operating facilities that they claim are understaffed and unsafe for staff and inmates.

Two correctional officers and three inmates have been killed this year.

Yesterday's attack happened about 6:15 a.m., Gregory said. The officer, who was stabbed in the upper torso, called for assistance and the inmate was taken into custody. Officers recovered a shank, a homemade weapon that was allegedly used in the attack, according to Gregory.

Inmates are not shackled when they are freed from their cells and walk to the cafeteria for meals, while inmates who are segregated for disciplinary or other reasons typically receive meals at their cells.

The motive for the attack was under investigation and charges against the inmate are pending, Gregory said. The name of the inmate also was not released.

In July, two inmates were accused of fatally stabbing David McGuinn, a correctional officer at the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup.

In January, Jeffrey A. Wroten, a correctional officer at a Hagerstown prison, was shot while guarding an inmate at a Washington County hospital. Police say the inmate managed to get hold of Wroten's gun, shoot him and flee. He was caught later that day after a car chase.

Both deaths raised sharp questions about whether internal prison procedures, staffing and security were adequate. In a report to state legislators last month, independent legislative analysts disclosed that inmate-on-staff assaults at maximum-security prisons nearly doubled from fiscal years 2003 to 2005.

Over the same period, vacancies in the Division of Correction more than doubled, the analysts told legislators.

Last month, Frank C. Sizer Jr. abruptly retired as commissioner of the Division of Correction, with indications that he had been forced out. He was replaced as acting commissioner by John A. Rowley, who had previously run a medium-security prison in Jessup.

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