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New laws address farms, builders, assault on guards

September 30, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

As of today, Maryland prison guards will have a little more protection from being assaulted by the so-called corrections cocktail, a foul mixture of bodily fluids.

A law making it a crime for inmates to throw them at correctional officers goes into effect today.

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The penalty for breaking the law is up to 10 extra years in prison and a fine of $2,500.

"Staff are extremely grateful," said Sharon Rucker, spokeswoman for the prison complex south of Hagerstown.

Correctional officers hope it will be a deterrent to assaults that Rucker called "the ultimate disrespect."

Hagerstown correctional officers testified in favor of the bill at Maryland General Assembly committee hearings earlier this year.

Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, who sponsored the legislation as chair of a House subcommittee on public safety, said her work on the law doesn't end here.

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The law must be monitored to make sure it's doing what it was intended to do - deter such actions on the part of inmates.

An original proposal was weakened somewhat during the three years it took to get the law passed, she said.

Also going into effect today are laws that will allow Washington County government to license home builders and enact a right-to-farm law.

License regulations for home builders are being drafted, said Permits and Inspections Director Paul Prodonovich.

They then must be approved by the Washington County Commissioners.

The commissioners also must approve their own right-to-farm law, intended to shield farmers from nuisance complaints.

The county is working with the Washington County Farm Bureau on those details, said Planning Director Robert Arch.

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