Supermax escapee finds Ohio jail worse

COLUMBUS, OHIO — COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Convicted killer Harold Benjamin Dean, the only person ever to escape from Maryland's Supermax prison, complained at a hearing yesterday that he was treated better there than in the Franklin County Jail in Columbus, where he is being held on $1 million bail.

In a brief session in the county Common Pleas Court, Judge Paul Martin granted a county prosecutor's request to hold Dean for up to 60 more days -- the deadline for authorities to secure an extradition order from Maryland's governor.


Dean, through a public defender, again refused to return voluntarily to Maryland, where he was serving a life term plus 105 years for the 1981 robbery of a Baltimore Montgomery Ward store, critically wounding an armored car guard and killing a tow-truck driver who gave chase.

The wiry Dean, who briefly escaped in 1985 from the maximum-security Maryland Penitentiary, became the first to flee Supermax -- where inmates are kept behind bars in solitary cells 23 hours a day -- last Nov. 30 when he wriggled through a narrow-slatted cell window and climbed a "rope" of clothing to the roof.


He had been living under an assumed name -- and even served a brief jail sentence in Pennsylvania without his real identity being uncovered -- before being captured Oct. 1 by FBI agents at a gasoline station in suburban Reynoldsburg, Ohio, where he was working as an attendant.

Franklin County Deputy Robert C. Albright said Dean is being kept under close watch to prevent another escape.

His wrists and ankles in shackles, Dean told Judge Martin that he was fed up with his treatment in the county jail, where he has been held in a single cell since his capture.

Dean, 40, complained that he is allowed to bathe only twice a week, must eat meals in his cell, and cannot socialize with other prisoners.

"In a maximum-security prison I got to watch television," Dean said. "I'm just trying to get treated like anyone else."

"Well, maybe you don't deserve to be treated like anyone else," the judge replied, adding, "Do you want a free ticket to the Holiday Inn?"

Dean cursed at the judge as two deputies led him back to a holding cell.