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More Roxbury Correctional Institution officers fired

April 09, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- Eight additional Roxbury Correctional Institution officers were fired Tuesday amid allegations of excessive force, bringing the total number of officers fired from the institution to 17 in less than a week.

The allegations stem from an incident at the prison during the weekend of March 8, a prison spokesman said in a news release.

The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services fired nine officers Friday, also amid excessive force allegations related to the March 8 incident.

Maryland State Police continue to lead a criminal investigation into the allegations.

"We are now up to 17 officers and their families who have been robbed of their livelihood and their health insurance," said Joe Lawrence, spokesman for the American Federation of State, Municipal and County Employees.

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Lawrence called the firings a "sweep."

The firings put more stress on employees dealing with already-low staffing levels at the prison, said Larry Kump, Maryland Classified Employees Association chapter president for noncustody employees in corrections.

"I have never seen morale below rock bottom like it is now," said Kump, a case manager at Roxbury Correctional Institution who has worked for the Division of Correction for 17 years.

Many employees feel threatened, and worry whether the wide sweep of the investigation was necessary, Kump said Tuesday evening in a telephone interview.

"We cannot tolerate excessive force, just as we will not tolerate an officer being harmed," said DPSCS Secretary Gary D. Maynard said Tuesday in a news release. "When it is found that policy is violated which calls for termination of an employee, we have an obligation to take action. These administrative actions are necessary in light of the information developed from the investigations conducted by our Internal Investigative Unit and the Maryland State Police." 

The allegations stem from a March 8 incident that involved at least one inmate. The inmate's injuries were not life-threatening, but he was taken to the hospital. Prison officials have said that incident might have been connected to a March 6 assault by inmates on officers.

When excessive force is found to have been used by prison staff, quick, decisive action is required, Maynard said during an April 1 interview with The Herald-Mail.

Maryland State Police and prison officials continue administrative and criminal inquiries into excessive force allegations at North Branch Correctional Institution near Cumberland, Md.

Eight officers from the maximum-security prison were placed on administrative leave while troopers investigate the case.

The North Branch inmates were transferred from RCI after the March 6 disturbance.

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