State Digest


September 19, 2006

2 men in custody are found dead

Two inmates were found dead in their cells in Maryland prisons yesterday, prompting internal investigations.

"In neither case does foul play appear to be a factor," said Mark A. Vernarelli, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

One of the deceased inmates was identified by his fiancee, Nicole Price of Dundalk, as Joseph R. Schriefer, 25, of Baltimore.

Price said she was shocked when she got a call about 10 a.m. from a chaplain at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup who told her that Schriefer had been found dead in his cell.

"He said, `I'm sorry, ma'am, but I have to tell you that Joseph has passed away.' I made him repeat it a couple of times. I asked him what happened and he said he didn't know."

Price said her fiancee has been in prison since February on a robbery charge, but expected to be released in November. The couple, who have a 5-year-old daughter, planned to get married after his release, she said.

A cellmate discovered Schriefer unresponsive in his cell about 8:40 a.m. yesterday and summoned an officer, Vernarelli said.

Asked why Schriefer's fiancee wasn't given more information about what caused his death, Vernarelli said: "A lot of times you can't tell what happened right away. Autopsies are done whenever there is any uncertainty."

The other death occurred at the Central Booking and Intake Center in Baltimore.

Vernarelli said that an officer found a 34-year-old inmate unresponsive in his cell about 7:35 a.m. and that staff members attempted to revive him.

He said the cause of death has not been determined, but that there was "no sign of trauma, no indication of a struggle" and nothing else to indicate the death was suspicious.

Vernarelli said investigators with the public safety department's Internal Investigation Unit are investigating both deaths.

Greg Garland

Maryland: College Park

UM to use grant to construct new journalism building

The University of Maryland's journalism school said yesterday it has received a $4.4 million grant to help fund a new building and create an institute to study the future of journalism.

About half the grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will be added to the $3 million the foundation has already given to Maryland to build a new journalism building on the College Park campus.

As a result of the gifts, the school plans to name the building after John S. and James L. Knight, brothers who founded a newspaper chain that later became Knight-Ridder. That company was acquired earlier this year by The McClatchy Co.

The remaining $2.4 million will create the Knight Institute for the Future of Journalism, which will work to ensure that journalism maintains its professional values and watchdog principles as it evolves.

Associated Press

Wicomico County: Hebron

Woman accused of falsely claiming kids died in Katrina

Police have arrested a woman they say falsely claimed that her twins were killed in Hurricane Katrina.

Maryland State Police arrested 45-year-old Sandra Sue Suiter last week. Police say she solicited and received monetary charitable donations after claiming that her 3-year-old twins were in killed in Slidell, La., during the storm.

Communications with the police officials and the coroner's office in Louisiana contradicted Suiter's claim, state police said. She was taken to Wicomico County Detention Center and charged with theft over $500, theft scheme under $500, making false statements to a police officer and obstructing and hindering. She is being held on $10,000 bond.

Associated Press

Cecil County: Chesapeake City

Roadside markers to tell history of C&D Canal

Roads near the C&D Canal Bridge are getting new information markers to tell motorists about the canal's history.

The Chesapeake Country National Scenic Byway will install $160,000 worth of markers along Route 213, which crosses the canal. "It's just going to be a little background information on how the canal came to be," said Jennie Schmidt, the byway's coordinator.

Associated Press


State seen lagging in funding drug treatment

Maryland's commitment to place more nonviolent drug offenders in treatment programs instead of prison is flagging, a prison reform advocacy group says in a new report issued today. The Washington-based Justice Policy Institute recommends sentencing reforms and a $30 million increase in drug treatment spending in the next fiscal year.

State funding for treatment hasn't kept pace with demand, and Maryland still spends far more to imprison drug offenders than it does to treat them, the study found.

Associated Press

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