Press Release
State of Maryland
Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services
DPSCS seal Communications Office Contact
Mark Vernarelli
410-339-5065 ~ mvernarelli@dpscs.state.md.us

DPSCS, Federal Partners Continue to Weed out Corruption at BCDC

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TOWSON, MD (November 21, 2013) – Today’s indictments of 15 additional current and former DPSCS employees are the next step of a coordinated anti-corruption process which began in 2010, after Secretary Gary Maynard made sweeping leadership changes within the pretrial system, installing a new commissioner and other top executive staff. This includes the formation of critical federal, state, and local law enforcement partnerships. These efforts led to the formation of the Maryland Prison Task Force, and sweeping operational and security changes at the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC), which today continue to make corruption and illegal activity increasingly more difficult.

Of the 15 indicted, 14 are, or have been correctional officers and one is a contractual canteen worker. Eight of the officers are former employees, no longer with the Department. Six are current employees. The six have been placed on administrative leave without pay.

Upon completion of an initial assessment of pretrial and BCDC operations in 2010, the Department reached out to our federal partners and began sharing information about activities inside the jail. That year-long discussion led to the January 2011 formation the MD Prison Task Force, comprised of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Marshal’s Service, FBI, DPSCS, and Baltimore City Police. The Task Force investigation ultimately led to the indictments of 13 correctional officers for their alleged role in contraband smuggling. Nine of them have since pleaded guilty.

Today, BCDC is run by a new management team. DPSCS has increased security and investigative measures to stop the influx of contraband, and maximized intelligence gathering capabilities to go after corruption within the jail. The result is that contraband is at an all-time low since tracking began in 2010. The introduction of contraband was driven down by 51% YTD through October 2013, as compared to the same time period last year.

DPSCS has continued to build alliances to go after illegal activity. The City Correctional Investigative Unit---a partnership between DPSCS, the State’s Attorney’s Office, and MD State Police---was formed specifically to fight corruption at the jail and other city-based institutions. They are assisted by a completely revamped Internal Investigative Unit (IIU), which today has strengthened DPSCS intelligence and investigation efforts, streamlining them into a single unit. IIU’s ranks are now expanding by 91%, including new intelligence, investigation, and support staff.

Other security improvements at BCDC include technology investments into an upgraded video surveillance system with 234 high-definition cameras with 45-day digital recording capability, and a $4 million investment into a state-of-the-art Managed Access cell phone signal interception system which prohibits the use of contraband cell phones – a major driver of smuggling at BCDC. In addition, today, all visitors are scanned through a real-time digital fingerprint reading system to check for criminal history.

Jail leadership is now making at least 30 daily computerized random intensive searches of both staff and detainees on each shift, as well as targeted facility searches three times daily, once per shift. The entire facility is searched once a week. BCDC now uses rotational entry screening teams from other facilities at entrance points, rotating every 30 days, and K-9 and Special Operations Group utilization has increased.

Together, these efforts are making it increasingly difficult for both gangs and corrupt staff to operate inside the State’s Baltimore City correctional complex.

Additional information on the security efforts at BCDC can be found here.