A union official is questioning the appointment of Roxbury Correctional Institution's new assistant warden, but state officials say Denise Morgan is qualified.
Until recently, Morgan was an administrative assistant for Jon Galley, the assistant commissioner for the West Region, according to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
Morgan has worked for the department since Sept. 20, 2002, and was an Administrative Officer III until she recently was named assistant warden at RCI, according to details the department provided The Herald-Mail through a Maryland Public Information Act request. RCI is one of three state prisons south of Hagerstown.
Morgan's change from Administrative Officer III to assistant warden came with a 25 percent pay increase, from $48,762 to $61,040, the department said.
During an interview in August, Gary D. Maynard, the secretary of public safety and correctional services, said of Morgan, "She met all the state criteria. She met all the department criteria."
But Patrick Moran, the director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Maryland, which represents more than 7,000 correctional officers and other state employees, was skeptical.
"She was the executive assistant to one of the regional commissioners .... That's been all her experience as far as I understand," Moran said.
"A number of the folks we represent have been concerned about that and a little dismayed because it smacks of cronyism," he added.
Rick Binetti, a spokesman for the department, wrote that it's "unfair" for The Herald-Mail to publish a story examining Morgan's appointment because "there isn't any news here."
A job description provided by the department says an assistant warden does "Managerial Work involving the administration of Programs and Services for a Correctional Institution — including but not limited to case management, commitment, medical, social work, psychology, religious services, volunteer programs and compliance with laws/regulations."
The minimum qualifications are listed as:
- For education: a bachelor's degree, including 15 credits in criminal justice or a related field. The person "[m]ay substitute additional experience in a position of major responsibility for the required education at a rate of one year of experience to one year of education for up to four years."
- For experience: five years in criminal justice or a related field, "three years of which must have been in a position of major responsibility."
Binetti wrote in an email that the job description for administrative officer is similar to the description for assistant warden in areas such as institutional policies, procedures, programming and fiscal management.
He wrote that it is not unusual for someone to become an assistant warden without having worked as a correctional officer first.
Of the Division of Correction's 14 assistant wardens in the West, East and Central regions, seven were correctional officers and seven were not, according to Binetti.
The department would not release more details about Morgan's past employment and educational background on the grounds that it would be illegal to disclose it.
The Maryland Public Information Act does not let government bodies release personnel records, "including an application, performance rating, or scholastic achievement information."
Reached by phone, Morgan declined to talk about her background and referred questions to Binetti.
In an email, Binetti wrote that he could say, with Morgan's permission: "She has a college degree; 10 years of prison experience locally and in the federal Bureau of Prisons with a background in finance/accounting, procedural compliance, and policy enforcement."
The Herald-Mail could not independently confirm the federal prison information.
Asked if the department could clarify Morgan's employment with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Binetti wrote that that would be part of a personnel record and can't be disclosed.