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Committee OKs 'corrections cocktails' bill

March 08, 1999

ANNAPOLIS - A bill to outlaw so-called "corrections cocktails" has been approved by a Senate committee.

Last week, officers at the Maryland Correctional Training Center south of Hagerstown told committee members that an inmate threw a mixture of urine and feces at a guard. Although the inmate was convicted of assault, he got no time added to his sentence.

The proposed law distinguishes cocktail assaults as a separate misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 10 extra years in prison.

"I'm glad it's moving this early of a date," said Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, sponsor of a companion bill in the House.

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The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Friday approved the measure, but excluded as a bodily fluid any blood that results from a fight.

The bill still needs the approval of the full Senate and House.

In addition to pursuing the stiffer penalty, MCTC is working on other ways to curb the attacks, said correctional officer Ronda L. Ralston.

Because some inmates use empty toiletry bottles to squirt the nasty concoction from their cells, the prison is looking into using single-serve packets for shampoo and lotion, she said.

Hagerstown group misses meeting with Taylor

ANNAPOLIS - When a group of Hagerstown community leaders visited the state capital last week, they turned down a chance to meet with Speaker of the House Casper R. Taylor Jr.

Two dozen members of Leadership Hagerstown took a tour of the State House and sat in on a meeting of the Washington County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly on Wednesday.

The delegation had arranged for the group to meet with Taylor, D-Allegany/Garrett, on the House floor after the morning session. However, the session ran late and the group headed off to its next appointment, a lunch with several lobbyists.

The delegation apologized to the Speaker's Office.

Homebuilders' bill gets committee's OK

ANNAPOLIS - A bill to give Washington County the power to license homebuilders breezed through a House of Delegates committee last week.

The bill had a hearing before the Economic Matters Committee on Tuesday and was approved Friday, said Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, a member of the committee.

It wasn't surprising because of the Maryland General Assembly's policy of giving courtesy to local measures, he said.

The bill still needs approval from the House of Delegates and Senate.

A bill to license homebuilders statewide met with much less enthusiasm from the committee. Homebuilders testified that licensing is more effective when done on a local level.

Wardens can ban porn

ANNAPOLIS - Del. Joseph R. Bartlett learned last week that his effort to allow wardens to ban pornography from prisons may be redundant.

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections said wardens already have the authority to ban porn.

The Washington County Detention Center has said it already has restrictions on explicit materials.

Bartlett, R-Frederick/Washington, was the only person to testify on behalf of his bill before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Hecht appointed to dispute commission

ANNAPOLIS - Del. Sue Hecht has been appointed to a commission studying alternative dispute resolution in Maryland.

Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell appointed Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, to the Maryland Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission.

The 40-member commission, established in 1998, is trying to advance out-of-court mediation with an eye to making courts more user-friendly, reducing congested court dockets and cutting business costs.

"I am honored to continue my anti-violence work through this important statewide initiative," Hecht said.

- Laura Ernde

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