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Investigation of prison escape focusing on protocol

August 03, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ
  • Trooper First Class T.G. Brown, right, with the Maryland State Police Hagerstown barrack takes MCI inmate Dominic Webster to a waiting police cruiser after Webster was captured.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer,

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services is looking at possible employee missteps connected to last week's state prisoner escape in Washington County.

As of Tuesday, the department hadn't determined the exact circumstances of Dominic Webster's escape on Friday from Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown.

Webster was missing from MCI-H for at least six hours. He was found near Beaver Creek Country Club.

In 2008, he began serving a 25-year sentence for multiple counts of robbery with a deadly weapon and handgun offenses, The Herald-Mail has reported.

Department spokesman Mark Vernarelli reiterated Tuesday that there's no sign Webster climbed a fence and it's still not clear how he got out.

"There is no evidence that any employee or inmate deliberately aided in the escape," a department news release says. "However, at this time, the actions of several employees are under review to determine whether they properly followed established protocol and procedures. No employees have been formally disciplined as of now, but appropriate disciplinary action will be taken if warranted as the investigation progresses."

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Webster complained of illness Friday morning and asked to leave his prison job to return to the housing unit, but he didn't go back to his cell, the department's news release says.

The prison was locked down when employees at his job site and his tier noticed he was absent, but Webster already had escaped, the news release says.

"The investigations are focused primarily on notification about Webster's alleged illness and his unplanned movement back to the cell; and the inmate's ability to access what should have been an off-limits area," the news release says.

In January 2009, convicted murderer Kandelario Garcia-Ramos escaped from MCI-H by scaling two fences. He was captured five days later.

The department also offered additional help for people who want to be contacted if there's another escape in the future.

Last fall, the Division of Correction, which is within the department, started a City Watch notification system. About 500 people have signed up, the news release says.

People can sign up online at http://www.dpscs.state.md.us/onlineservs/enr.

The news release says people who don't have Internet access can call 877-828-3802 to get help signing up for phone or e-mail notifications.

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