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Senate passes exposure bill

April 01, 2002|BY LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Inmates who indecently expose themselves to correctional officers can be charged with a crime under legislation approved by the Maryland Senate on Friday.

A similar version of the bill has already passed the House, making it likely the measure will become law this year.

Courts have ruled that indecent exposure can't take place in jails, which are considered private places.

At a hearing earlier this year, prison officials testified that some inmates purposely expose themselves to harass correctional officers.

Officials have tried punishing inmates by taking away good time credits, taking away privileges and putting them in solitary confinement. Still some inmates refuse to stop the practice.

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The bill that passed the Senate by a vote of 40-6 would make inmate exposure a crime punishable by three years in prison and a $1,000 fine.

The exposure would have to be characterized as "lewd and lascivious."

A prosecutor would also have to prove the inmate intended to harass the correctional officers, according to a provision added in the Senate.

The House is expected to agree to the amendment and send the legislation to the governor for his signature.

A similar bill passed the House last year, but failed on one vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, cast the key vote against the bill last year, but voted in favor of the legislation Friday.

Mooney said afterward that he still has concerns about invasion of privacy in prison.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said this kind of protection for correctional officers is long overdue.

"Correctional officers have it bad enough without these kinds of people being able to do this and get away with it," Munson said.

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