An employee at the Baltimore City Detention Center who prevented an escape and another who helped capture an escapee were among 40 employees honored by state prison officials yesterday for outstanding achievement.
Sarah Burrell, who works in the facility's payroll department, helped to capture a female inmate who had escaped from home detention.
Carole Yates, who has worked in the medical department of the East Baltimore jail for nine years, helped nab a nattily dressed inmate posing as a physician while trying to escape in 1991.
Neither Ms. Burrell nor Ms. Yates had training in security.
"They went far beyond the scope of normal duties," said LaMont Flanagan, commissioner of the state Division of Pretrial Detention and Services that operates the jail. "They make the difference between the good in society and the bad in society."
Ms. Burrell, who has been at the jail for less than three years, recalled the incident that won her recognition.
In March, a woman who was "very nervous" came to the payroll department to collect the money in her jail account.
"When I punched up her name in the computer, I saw these three little letters come up," Ms. Burrell said of the "esc" abbreviation, which denotes an escapee. "When I saw that she was an escapee, I thought that either she was crazy or I was," she said.
Ms. Burrell stalled the woman, telling her that her account was being verified. Meanwhile, she notified security officers.
"She kept rushing me, saying 'Miss, can you hurry up. Can you hurry up,' " Ms. Burrell recalled. "I didn't want security to come and bum-rush her from the inside because she could run out the door."
When security officers arrived, the woman ran out of the building but was caught after a brief chase.
"That $18 must have meant a lot to her," Ms. Burrell said. "That must have been all she had."
Ms. Yates recalled that when she reported for work one day in July 1991, a man dressed in a suit with a stethoscope around his neck passed her in the prison courtyard. She said the man also wore a Correctional Medical Services identification card but tape hid the name and part of the picture.
The inmate had already passed three security checkpoints and had only one more to pass before reaching freedom.
She said the man lowered his head and looked away as she passed. Still, she recognized him.
"I said to myself, why is that inmate walking out the door," Ms. Yates recalled.
The prison's medical department was undergoing staffing changes and many of the security officers weren't familiar with the new personnel, Ms. Yates said.
"He must have thought it was easy to just walk out of here," she said.
"When he saw me, he just put his head down."
Ms. Yates notified security officers, who seized the inmate and returned him to his cell.