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Maryland legislators – and the media – overlook the other prison scandal

June 28, 2013

1198-1-1708bIf the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors were to say, in filings in criminal conspiracy cases brought against Maryland correctional staff, that a “culture” of illegal conduct exists among officers at one of Maryland’s correctional institutions, a scandal would seem sure to ensue.

That’s exactly what happened in January, February, and March, but no scandal erupted – partly, perhaps, because scant media coverage of the probe emerged.

Details were provided in six City Paper articles, though, that relied on court documents to report that the FBI and DOJ believe a “culture” of conspiratorial cover-ups of unlawful beatings of inmates who assault correctional officers (COs) exists at Roxbury Correctional Institution (RCI) in Hagerstown.

Despite the fact that the allegations are part of ongoing FBI probe and are being prosecuted by the DOJ’s headquarters-based Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., public and official outrage would have to wait until second, separate FBI/DOJ case was unveiled in April. This one alleged that COs at the Baltimore City Detention Center and the Baltimore City Booking and Intake Center helped a prison gang, the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF), take de facto control of the facilities by smuggling contraband to imprisoned gang-members and having sex with them.

Unlike in the inmate-beatings case, court documents in the BGF case don’t use the word “culture” to describe COs’ alleged conduct, though court-record descriptions amount to as much – and the allegations are a virtual repeat of an earlier BGF racketeering case involving COs that failed to prompt much in the way of public outcry or reform efforts by the Maryland legislature.

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