Maryland has named a new warden to take over its 1,100-inmate House of Correction with a mandate to reduce violence at a facility where three inmates have been killed since May, the Baltimore Sun reports. Correction Commissioner Frank C. Sizer Jr. gave new warden Wendell M. “Pete” France broad authority to make whatever changes he feels are needed to tighten security and stem the mayhem. A poorly designed structure built in 1878, the prison has a reputation for being notoriously difficult to manage. France, warden of a prison classification center, is a former Baltimore police chief of detectives.
Ron Angelone, a former director of corrections in Virginia and Nevada who heads a correctional consulting company, said it is common for prison system administrators to switch wardens when there has been a rash of violence or other problems. “It says that there’s a new sheriff in town and that there are rules and that they are going to be followed,” Angelone said. He said taking firm control is not easy, especially at a prison such as the House of Correction, where about half the inmate population is housed in open dorms. It is unusual for a maximum-security prison to have open dorms rather than individual or double-bunked cells.