WaPo’s Charles Lane looks hard at AFSCME’s role in Baltimore BGF jail scandal
When last spring’s sex-and-drugs scandal involving the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) prison gang and correctional officers at Baltimore jails erupted, Charles Lane (pictured), a Washington Post editorial writer, seized on the role a public-employee union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), may have had in the enabling the criminality. So did City Paper, focusing on a law passed in 2010 that made it harder for prison administrators to hold COs responsible for bad acts at work—a reform CP had previously covered, after a prior raft of CO-integrity problems involving gangs had come to light.
Now Lane has penned a lengthy, 3,800-word analysis of the scenario in City Journal, a widely read urban-policy magazine, concluding that AFSCME exercised “undue influence” thanks to “union political machinery, funded through dues deducted from tax-funded payrolls,” to get the 2010 bill passed. Lane was particularly insightful in detailing the machinations surrounding the inmate-beating case in 2008 that also erupted last year, with federal criminal indictments that have since resulted in convictions of all COs charged, except for one. The state’s efforts to prosecute the COs involved in the immediate aftermath of the beatings faltered, so AFSCME corralled COs to testify in support of the 2010 bill, casting it as measure that would protect COs from overzealous, unfounded prosecutions – a position that now, given the successful and ongoing federal prosecutions, appears to be an embarrassment for AFSCME.