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Assembly leaders change plans for city jail oversight

General Assembly leaders say a joint committee of top legislators will hear from corrections officials about alleged corruption at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

The briefing, to be held in June, replaces a House Judiciary Committee hearing that had been scheduled for next week.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch announced the joint public briefing of the Legislative Policy Committee by top corrections officials in June. Alexandra Hughes, a spokeswoman for the speaker, said the exact date of the briefing is expected to be announced next week.

Miller and Busch said in a news release that they approve of Public Safety Secretary Gary F. Maynard’s decision to seek a federal investigation of gang activities at the detention center. But they said the legislature must ask tough questions about the conditions that led to the allegations.

“We need to take a broader look at the policies governing the correctional system, including hiring, training and disciplinary processes and efforts to combat gang violence,” Busch said.

The House hearing had been announced in the aftermath of last week's announcement of federal indictments of 25 people — including 13 correctional officers — in what was described by prosecutors as a pervasive corruption scheme involving guards and inmate members of the Black Guerrilla Family gang.

Hughes said Miller and Busch decided it would be better for the House and Senate to hold a joint inquiry into the problems reported at the facility, including rampant smuggling and sexual liaisons between female correctional officers and male inmates.

The legislative policy panel is in effect a super-committee chaired by the two presiding officers and made up of senior members of both parties in the two houses, including the chairs of all standing committee.

Miller and Busch said that after the briefing they will name a joint task force to oversee the public safety department’s efforts to correct problems and to help develop remedies to be considered in the 2014 legislative session.

Meanwhile, police said, a man who was charged in the indictment but couldn’t be found during the initial raids has been arrested. Court records show that Tyrone Thompson, 36, accused in the gang indictment of being an outside supplier, was taken into custody Thursday. He was released to await trial.

Thompson supplied alleged gang kingpin Tavon White with prescription pills through intermediaries, federal investigators wrote in an affidavit in the case. Thompson could not be reached for comment, and no attorney is listed for him in court records.

Baltimore Sun reporter Ian Duncan contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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