RCI guard assaulted

July 22, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ


After a second Roxbury Correctional Institution officer was attacked by an inmate in two weeks, a state delegate said Maryland's correction commissioner and understaffing under his watch are to blame.

Division of Correction Commissioner Frank C. Sizer Jr. "should be held personally responsible" for the latest RCI assault, the last RCI assault and any future assault, Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said Thursday.

Thursday afternoon, an RCI inmate being escorted from the prison yard struck a male correctional officer in the face, according to George Gregory, a Division of Correction spokesman.


On July 7, an inmate grabbed a female correctional officer around the neck, threw her to the ground and climbed on top of her in an attempt to sexually assault her, according to media accounts confirmed by a Division of Correction spokeswoman. The officer reported that she kicked and screamed until the inmate ran away.

RCI and Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown, part of the three-prison complex south of Hagerstown, are "substantially understaffed," Shank said Thursday night.

He said he was awaiting information about the third prison there, Maryland Correctional Training Center, before scheduling a meeting to go over staffing holes that need to be filled immediately.

Shank said the meeting will be with officials at the Maryland Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services, which includes the Division of Correction.

"Time is of the essence," he said. "We can no longer wait for this situation to be rectified."

Shank said people called him shortly after Thursday's attacks.

"It's grounds for severe action," he said. "I am furious with the leadership of the DOC."

Shank's comments came too late Thursday night for The Herald-Mail to ask Sizer or the Division of Correction to respond.

Earlier in the day, Gregory said two correction officers were assigned to a yard at RCI to watch inmates near a vocational shop, where they learn about and practice trades.

At about 12:40 p.m. on Thursday, one officer noticed an inmate lingering and called the inmate aside.

As the inmate was being escorted to an area to be searched, the inmate struck the officer in the head with his hand, Gregory said.

The second officer called for assistance, then stepped in to help the first officer. Together, the two officers apprehended the inmate, Gregory said.

He would not release the names of the officers or the inmate. He only would say that the inmate is serving a 12-year sentence for assault and weapons convictions.

He said the division will release the names and say whether the inmate was charged when the investigation is complete.

A group of Western Maryland legislators met last week with Gov. Robert Ehrlich's chief of staff and Mary Ann Saar, the secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, to talk about prison staffing and security.

Inadequate staffing was one of Joseph Sacchet's concerns when he announced last month, through The Herald-Mail, that he was resigning as the warden at Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown, where the state cut 82 jobs.

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