Through his budget and legislative agenda, Governor O'Malley today underscored his commitment to improving safety and security in the State's correctional facilities by combatting the introduction of contraband, enhancing investigatory capacity, and rooting out corruption.
"We're continuing our efforts to promote integrity and strengthen security at Maryland correctional institutions," said Governor O'Malley. "The agenda we've laid out will root out corruption, combat contraband, and promote a safer, more secure correctional system across Maryland."
Implementing Security Reforms and Enhancing Safety at Correctional Facilities
Enhancing the integrity and safety of Maryland's correctional and detention facilities is a top priority of the O'Malley Brown Administration. The Administration's FY 2015 budget invests in the following:
Increasing institutional staffing levels and reducing overtime: $4.1 million for 100 additional correctional officers in this year's budget, as well as $637,000 for one year of a multi-year in-service correctional officer training program to enhance officer safety.
Upgrading cameras and video recording systems at correctional facilities and youth centers: Establishing a security and camera system technology fund to replace and upgrade cameras at institutions statewide. The Governor is providing $788,000 in this year's budget and $1.1 million in deficiencies in last year's budget. Increased surveillance significantly improves officer, staff, and inmate safety.
Bolstering intelligence gathering efforts: The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (the Department) has bolstered the Internal Investigative Unit (IIU) by adding 12 new positions (eight new detectives, four new intelligence analysts). The expansion includes funding for a million-dollar deficiency in last year's budget.
Targeting drugs, cell phones and other contraband through K9 expansion: The Governor put $563,000 in the FY15 budget to expand the K9 unit by seven positions to improve the detection of contraband such as drugs and cell phones.
Expanding Anti-Contraband Technology: Investing $7.2 million in this year's budget and a $4.2 million deficiency in last year's budget to install two more managed access systems in Baltimore City that render contraband cell phones inoperable.
Developing the Department's first ever polygraph unit: Investing nearly $600,000 in order to polygraph all correctional officer applicants. This includes funding for the following items: (1) a new polygraph unit ($347,000 deficiency in last year's budget); (2) enhancing centralized hiring ($61,000 in this year's budget); and (3) enhancing employee relations units ($182,000 deficiency in last year's budget).
Implementing keyword recognition software: The Governor is providing $125,000 in this year's budget and $375,000 deficiency in last year's budget for software that allows for targeted intelligence gathering.
Expanding correctional officer presence: The Governor and the Department are ensuring adequate coverage of posts throughout state facilities by providing $6 million in this year's budget and a $9 million deficiency in last year's budget.
SB113 -- Combatting Illegal Cell Phones in Prisons: Legislation to combat introduction and/or possession of illegal cell phones in prisons by making it a felony to deliver or attempt to deliver a telecommunications device by enhancing fines and penalties and making it a felony.
SB114 -- Streamlining Intelligence: Legislation that unifies intelligence gathering and internal investigations and creates the newly named Intelligence and Investigative Division at the Department.
SB126 -- Ensuring the Integrity of Personnel: Legislation that puts the Department on par with other law enforcement agencies and eight local detention centers by exempting the Department from the State's anti-polygraph law.
Improving the Correctional Officers' Bill of Rights (COBR): Legislation that allows IIU to bring disciplinary charges against a correctional officer if a criminal investigation takes longer than 90 days. The legislation will also exempt probationary officers from the protections of COBR and from being eligible to serve on hearing boards.
History: Swift and Decisive Action Taken Immediately Following Indictments
Following the indictments, the Department installed new leadership at the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC), including a new Jail Administrator, Assistant Jail Administrator and Security Chief.
The Department upgraded security cameras at BCDC to provide 45 hours of recording capability.
The Administration established the City Corrections Investigative Unit (CCIU) to continue investigating and prosecuting gang activity and corrupt staff in Baltimore correctional facilities. The unit is comprised of Department officials, members of the Maryland State Police, and Baltimore City's State's Attorney's Office prosecutors. CCIU has indicted 31 individuals, seven of whom are corrections officers. Four of the 31 individuals, who are not correctional officers, have already been convicted and sentenced.
The Department established front entrance search teams and implemented new procedures for rotation, which require teams to be rotated every 30 days between eight facilities.
The Department unified the IIU and the intelligence division to enhance coordination and streamline intelligence gathering.
In order to sever physical gang ties and prevent future gang activity, the Department transferred more than 30 high-risk detainees. The transfer of high-risk detainees will continue in the future.