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Md. General Assembly OKs corrections cocktail bill

April 09, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - The Maryland General Assembly agreed Friday to outlaw the so-called corrections cocktail, a foul mixture of bodily fluids that inmates throw at prison guards.

If the measure is signed by Gov. Parris Glendening, inmates who launch such attacks could be convicted of a misdemeanor.

They would face up to 10 extra years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.

The bill is backed by correctional officers at the prison complex south of Hagerstown, which houses nearly one-third of the state's inmates.

Hagerstown correctional officers testified that prosecutors are reluctant to bring assault charges against inmates for the offense.

Correctional officers say there are few deterrents for inmates to use the "cocktail" to harass them.

Inmates have used plastic shampoo bottles to squirt concoctions of blood, semen, urine or feces onto correctional officers.

Earlier in the session, both the House of Delegates and Senate passed different versions of the legislation.

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A compromise was worked out by a conference committee and won final approval by both chambers Friday.

"Wonderful," said Del. Sue Hecht, D-Washington, who sponsored the legislation as chair of a House subcommittee on public safety.

Hecht's bill was changed to make it clear that inmates who accidentally get blood on a guard could not be charged.

Hecht was relieved that the Senate approved the compromise before a filibuster began in earnest.

The extended debate began Friday afternoon by those who are against doubling of the cigarette tax to 72 cents a pack.

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