A Washington Post review of court records and interviews with current and former law enforcement officers, jail administrators, state officials, union representatives and corrections experts paints a picture of a failed disciplinary system in Maryland’s corrections department, with little if any deterrent for corrections officers who smuggle contraband or even have sex with inmates. The prison system's small cadre of full-time permanent investigators — just 19 in a state with 24 corrections facilities — has remained virtually the same since Gov. Martin O’Malley took office more than six years ago.
Their ranks did not grow after a report, issued the month O'Malley was elected to his first term, warned that there were nearly 300 gang members inside the detention center. Nor were more full-fledged investigators added after a 2009 investigation led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration found a hive of corruption and flagrant gang activity at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup and the Metropolitan Transition Center in Baltimore. Evidence from that probe suggested the problems were just as serious at the detention center, the state's largest jail and long one of its most troubled. “There was a sense that this isn't going to get fixed until we get a case so big, so shocking that it would reallocate resources or change laws,” said a law enforcement official not identified by the Post. “We figured we needed national attention to force the Maryland legislature to act.”