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Roxbury gets 16 new life inmates in prison shuffle

August 15, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Sixteen inmates serving life sentences were transferred last month to Roxbury Correctional Institution south of Hagerstown following a re-evaluation of security measures at Maryland's prisons, according to a prison spokesman.

Prison Commissioner William W. Sondervan ordered a review of the records of 73 inmates serving life sentences who have histories of escapes, said Dave Towers, public information officer for the Maryland Division of Correction.

"It's a way to turn over every stone," he said.

As a result of the scrutiny, 52 inmates were transferred from medium to high-medium or maximum security prisons, said Towers. The other 21 were not moved, but they will be under increased supervision, he said.

On July 28, the maximum security inmates from throughout the state were transferred to the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup, Md.

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The same day, the high-medium level inmates were taken to Roxbury and the Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md.

Of the Roxbury inmates, four were from Maryland Correctional Institution Hagerstown, four from MCI Jessup, five from Maryland Correctional Training Center near Hagerstown and three from the Eastern Correctional Institution on the Eastern Shore.

Roxbury Warden Joseph Sacchet said his staff is able to handle the increase in inmates.

"They are well-trained and professional," he said. "Our mission is to house (the inmates) without incident."

The addition brings the prison's population of inmates with life sentences to about 75 of 1,900.

The prisoner review followed the May escape of Gregory Lawrence, 39, and Byron Lester Smoot, 38, from the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup, Towers said. They were eventually recaptured.

An escapee from MCTC remains at large, according to Maryland State Police.

Raymond Eric Dodd, 24, escaped July 12. Prison officials are unsure how he got out.

"We won't know for sure until he's apprehended," Towers said.

Dodd was serving a 16-year sentence for armed robbery and assault. He was also sentenced to 10 years to life for a manslaughter charge in Washington, D.C., following his 16-year prison term.

State Police have said they believe Dodd fled to the Washington, D.C., area, where he has family members.

Since Dodd's escape from MCTC, officials have installed razor wire along the housing areas, Towers said.

In addition, the prison will install a new perimeter fence in the spring. Plans for the perimeter fence were in effect prior to Dodd's flight, he said.

Maryland's prisons have 2,000 inmates serving life sentences, Towers said

Inmates are initially evaluated based on their history, the nature of their crime and other factors before being placed in an institution, he said.

Towers said the Hagerstown prison was chosen as a transfer site because it's a newer facility with modern fencing, alarms and other security equipment.

Long-range plans for Maryland's prisons include a special security audit team that will randomly inspect each institution in the state, Towers said.

Each of the medium- and maximum-security prisons will be assessed to determine whether additional security measures such as more lighting, perimeter alarms and improved fencing need to be added, he said.

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