Gov. Martin O’Malley said Tuesday that he shares “the public’s revulsion” at allegations of corruption at the Baltimore City Detention Center but remains confident in public safety officials who oversee the state’s prisons.
The indictment of 13 female corrections officers last week was the culmination of a prison task force initiated by Gary D. Maynard, the state secretary of public safety and correctional services, O’Malley told reporters in Annapolis.
“Secretary Maynard is one of the best public safety secretaries in the entire nation,” O’Malley said. If not for Maynard’s efforts to crack down on the gang, “we would not have made the progress that we have made,” he said.
O’Malley (D) also praised local law enforcement and state corrections employees who took part in the investigation and called the indictments a “positive achievement” towards ending gang violence in the state.
Federal prosecutors allege that the 13 guards aided leaders of the Black Guerrilla Family gang in running a criminal organization from behind bars by smuggling drugs, cell phones and other items into the jail. One inmate, Tavon White, impregnated four of the guards, according to the indictment.
The indicted guards have been suspended without pay.
Lawmakers have called for a blue-ribbon commission to investigate the state’s prison system, and the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to have a hearing on the Baltimore City Detention Center on May 8.
Critics, including Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly and Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan, have called on O’Malley to fire Maynard.
O’Malley said Maynard brought the investigation to his attention in spring 2012, and that he instructed Maynard to give federal investigators all the assistance they needed. He praised not only Maynard’s leadership on the task force that led to the indictments, but also his case-management improvements and violence prevention initiatives.
O’Malley cited reductions in inmate assaults on prison staff and other inmates, but said there was still much progress to be made. There will be changes and improvements to prison procedures as well as the vetting and background checks of corrections officers, he said.