4/11/08

AFSCME prison-guard probe expands

A probe that began last month into guards beating inmates at both the Roxbury Correctional Institute in Hagerstown (Maryland) and the North Branch Correctional Institute here in Cumberland has turned into one of the most extensive investigations in years, leading to the termination or possible termination at both facilities.

Detectives are working with state police and local prosecutors investigating several encounters between inmates and officers in early March at both prisons. So far, 17 officers from RCI have been fired and eight officers from North Branch are on paid administrative leave, according to prison officials.

Labor unions representing the correctional officers say the state has moved too quickly to fire officers in a broad sweep and have vowed to appeal the terminations, and Joe Lawrence, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which will represent the accused officers, told the Baltimore Sun that the investigation is being pursued in a reckless fashion, and morale has suffered.

Spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services, Mark Vernarelli, spoke with WCBC News, and he says that that is simply not the case.

(wcbcradio.com)

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