Eight state prison employees have been disciplined -- including one who was fired -- in connection with the erroneous release last week of a violent inmate serving a life sentence for attempted murder.
The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said the employees "failed to follow well-established policy and procedures relating to the release and/or transportation of state prisoners."
Officials declined to outline specific punishments but said one employee was fired, another will retire in lieu of discipline, and others were reprimanded or suspended without pay. Their positions ranged from correctional officers to ranking officers and other staff, including one employee with 30 years on the job.
A manhunt was touched off Feb. 25 after 26-year-old Raymond T. Taylor, a man convicted of shooting his ex-girlfriend and her daughters execution-style in 2005, was released from the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center in downtown Baltimore.
A Division of Correction investigation found that multiple policy and procedure violations were committed, including verification of release papers, visual verification of identification, and verification of an inmate's DOC number. The investigation also revealed that inmates being transported were housed with inmates being released, another violation of policy.
Taylor obtained his cellmate's identification card and passed through three stages of the release process. Officials chalked the mistake up to the fact that the two men had similar features. Taylor was located the next day in West Virginia.
The agency said this week that it plans to begin using portable fingerprint scanning machines called "Fast ID" as an extra safeguard during the release process. The first correctional facility to get the machine is the Maryland Reception, Diagnostics and Classification Center, which department spokesman Rick Binetti said Tuesday has begun handling inmate releases and transfers for the city instead of the MCAC, where the mistaken release occurred.
Inmates are held at numerous locations throughout the state, but only a small number of regional "hubs" are involved with inmate releases or transports for court or medical appearances. Taylor had been transported from a facility in Cumberland to MCAC en route to the Eastern Shore for a civil court hearing in Somerset County.