Lawmakers pass bill aiding guards

April 06, 1997


Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland lawmakers agreed Saturday to pass legislation that will bar correctional officers from being involuntarily transferred to prisons across the state.

The legislation, which was approved overwhelmingly by both the House of Delegates and the Senate, was seen as a victory for correctional officers, many of whom had opposed the bill when the restrictions were not included.

"I'm very satisfied, very satisfied," said Del. D. Bruce Poole, D-Washington.

The approved bill, which now awaits the signature of Gov. Parris N. Glendening, limits job transfers to a 50-mile radius - a restriction that essentially bar involuntary transfers from the state prison complex south of Hagerstown.


"I'm am very, very pleased. We worked very hard to get that (restrictive) amendment," said Del. Louise V. Snodgrass, R-Frederick/Washington.

The vote culminated a strange journey for the bill, which actually has to do with the reorganization of the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Originally, it was opposed by many correctional officers and union leaders who saw it as a threat to job security. They feared the legislation will prompt reassignments at the whim of the department's secretary.

They thought they had their answer when the 50-mile radius restriction was added to the bill in the Senate. Because there is no other state prison facility within 50 miles of the Hagerstown complex, the amendment would have meant that no officer at the three prisons could have been transferred out of the area without his or her consent.

There are 1,328 correctional officers at the three prisons south of Hagerstown, according to state figures.

But the 50-mile radius was removed in the final Senate version. When the bill was moved over the House, the restriction was put back in. That left it to negotiators from the two houses having to work out the differences in the two versions of the bill.

The final decision was to put the 50-mile radius back in, with only the warden, assistant warden and chief of security not covered by the restriction.

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