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Studying prison security

February 17, 2006

Next month, a committee of prison managers, correctional officers and Washington County Hospital staff members will reveal the results of a study of security procedures for inmates who need hospital care.

The study comes after the Jan. 27 death of Jefferey A. Wroten, a Roxbury Correctional Institution officer who was shot in the face while guarding an inmate at the local hospital.

The Associated Press reported this week that Frank C. Sizer Jr., commissioner of the Division of Correction, said that the committee will look at creation of a special unit to transport inmates from the prison complex south of Hagerstown to court appearances or to the hospital.

Sizer said the new unit also would be charged with providing security for inmates while they are hospitalized.

Currently, according to Ronald E. Smith, a representative of the Maryland Classified Employees Association, officers with appropriate weapons training now get those assignments when the need arises.

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According to Smith, some officers might get such duty only once a year.

We agree with Smith that a special unit would be a good idea. Inmates prone to escape spend a lot of time thinking about how to do it. It makes sense to have a special unit that could concentrate on preventing it.

Such a committee should also look at how to create more secure hospital rooms for inmates. If inmates must be treated there, every reasonable precaution must be taken to see that they don't leave early.

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