The killing of a popular Sunni Muslim inmate leader and the stabbing of one of his friends have increased tension at the maximum-security Maryland House of Correction and put authorities on alert for signs of more unrest, says the Baltimore Sun. Edward Cohn of the National Major Gang Task Force, a nonprofit Indiana-based organization that advises law enforcement and prison administrators, said it is unusual for one prison to have three killings in two months. The killing of a high-profile inmate leader, he said, should raise alarms. “One of the things a prison administration always has to be concerned about is retaliation,” Cohn said. “These are tough situations to deal with.”
The facility houses 1,100 inmates, more than a third of whom are affiliated with Muslim groups. Muslims have long been a prominent part of Maryland’s inmate population. They are primarily black males who convert to Islam after entering prisons. The Sunnis are the largest group, with 157 members. Other groups represented include the Nation of Islam, more commonly known as the Black Muslims, affiliated with Louis Farrakhan; the Moorish Science Temple of America; and Lost and Found Nation of Islam. Inmates often join religious groups for the protection and other benefits that come with being part of a larger organization.