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Chairman's Message, O'Malley

Putting a Face on O’Malley’s Prison Scandal

Posted: May 4, 2013 at 3:30 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

LacklLate last month 13 Maryland corrections officers were among the 25 people indicted in Federal Court for allegedly running a criminal enterprise in a state institution, the Baltimore City Detention Center.  According to prosecutors, the officers helped smuggle drugs, mobile phones and other contraband into the Baltimore jail and other corrections facilities. The ring also involved sex between inmates and female guards. Incredibly four of the officers allegedly became pregnant by prisoner Tavon White, leader of the so-called Black Guerrilla Family.

Amazing too is Governor O’Malley’s response.  He described the prison sex and drugs scandal as a “positive achievement” and credits Corrections Secretary, Gary Maynard, with establishing a state-federal task force “with this goal in mind of going after gangs.”

This is a rerun of a very bad horror movie that continues to replay throughout the O’Malley administration.

Rewind the movie back to 2007, O’Malley’s first year in office.  Patrick Byer is awaiting trial on a murder charge in the Baltimore Detention Center.  Like many of the inmates in that facility, Byers has access to a contraband mobile phone, which he uses to negotiate a murder for $2,500 of the principal witness against him.  Just 8 days before the beginning of Byer’s trial, Carl Lackl Jr. is gunned in front of his house in a crime witnessed by his daughter.

Federal prosecutors eventually succeeded in convicting eight defendants in Carl Lackl Jr.’s murder.

Yet not everyone involved may have been punished.  Mobile phone records showed that Lackl’s killers had contact with corrections officers.  However according to news accounts, prison spokesmen say they are unaware of any officers who were disciplined or fired because of the case.

The Baltimore City Paper reported in a 2009 story on a court case that revealed that in late 2006 and early 2007, 16 correctional officers were identified by an internal investigation as being gang members or having gang ties.  Yet the warden at the Baltimore Detention Center, William Filbert, ordered that the investigation of the problem cease. [1]  Filbert remains an official in the Corrections Department in an even more senior capacity.

Over time the Baltimore City Paper has published multiple stories about Black Guerrilla Family and its grip on the Maryland corrections system.

In this continuing horror movie, 24 people, including 3 correctional officers and a prison employee, were indicted in 2009 in connection with the operation of a drug ring out of several Maryland prisons.  The gang had contraband mobile phones obtained from correction officers and a prison employee.  In June 2011, a corrections officer who assisted the Black Guerrilla Family gang by smuggling heroin and mobile phones into a Baltimore prison was sentenced to serve 37 months in federal prison.

In last month’s indictment press release, the FBI captures the gang’s brazenness by quoting a phone call by Tavon White from jail, in which he touts his total control:

“This is my jail. You understand that? I’m dead serious….I make every final call in this jail…and nothing go past me, everything come to me….Any of my brothers that deal with anybody, it’s gonna come to me. You see what I am saying? Everything come to me. Everything. Before a mother-f– hit a n– in the mouth, guess what they do, they gotta run it through me. I tell them whether it’s a go ahead, and they can do it or whether they hold back. Before a mother-f– stab somebody, they gotta run it through me…Anything that get done must go through me.” [2]

In short, the woeful state of Maryland’s corrections system should not come as “news” to the state’s Chief Executive Officer.  And the arrest of 13 correction officers should hardly be considered a “positive achievement.”

O’Malley’s remarkably awkward defense of his Secretary does not generate any confidence in the Governor’s skills as a manager.  He said that conducting the necessary investigation is “not like getting a cheeseburger at McDonald’s drive through window.” [3]

No one would deny that a criminal investigation is harder than ordering at McDonald’s.  But shouldn’t our Governor being doing more to make it more difficult for a jailed murder defendant to get a mobile phone with which to order a contract murder of a witness?

O’Malley’s Secretary of Public Safety & Correctional Services Gary Maynard has served since being hired in the first month of the Governor’s administration.  If after six years he is unable to correct the very serious problems with the corrections system, then it is time for the Governor to ask for his resignation.

Mark Uncapher

Montgomery County Republican Chairman