Inmates in stabbings return to prison

One still hospitalized after fight at correctional center

September 17, 2006|By Kelly Brewington | Kelly Brewington,Sun reporter

New details emerged yesterday about an outbreak of violence at the Jessup Correctional Institution in which four inmates were hospitalized for stab wounds. The institution was on lockdown for a second consecutive day as officials continued to investigate.

Three of the four inmates had returned to their cells yesterday after being treated for stab wounds at hospitals. Two went to Maryland Shock Trauma Center with serious injuries.

The fight among eight inmates erupted about 9:30 p.m. in the day room of the facility and guards had to use pepper spray to break up the inmates, said Maj. Priscilla Doggett, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

By last night, three of the four inmates had been treated at area hospitals and sent back to prison, Doggett said. Lt. Russell Davies, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, which transported the injured inmates to area hospitals, said the inmates were male and two suffered life-threatening injuries. They had been stabbed several times in the neck, upper back and chest.

Davies said paramedics believe the men were stabbed with ice pick-like blades.

The incident comes on the heels of a Sept. 4 stabbing of a corrections officer by an inmate in a facility connected to the Jessup Correctional Institution and a pledge by recently hired corrections chief John A. Rowley to increase security and spend $7 million on enhancements such as radios and surveillance cameras.

The stabbing of a corrections officer sparked a Sept. 6 letter by state Sen. James E. DeGrange Sr. to Public Safety Secretary Mary Ann Saar asking the department to address safety concerns. DeGrange, a Democrat from Anne Arundel County, has set up a legislative hearing Thursday to discuss the latest plans.

"I hope that you will come to this hearing prepared to explain why no progress has been made to make our correctional officers safe," DeGrange said in the letter.

Ron Bailey, executive director of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 92, said Friday's stabbings underscore the union's worries about safety.

Bailey said staff shortages only add to corrections officers' worries.

"We absolutely have some real concerns about safety, and the administration is well aware of that," he said. "I understand they have a plan that entails new security technology, but technology isn't going to run itself. You need manpower."

Doggett said the agency is working to fix the problems.

"The population that we manage are violent offenders who come into the system with tendencies of violence," she said. "What we are trying to do is continue to find ways to manage a violent population. That is an ongoing challenge."

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