5 inmates foiled in escape attempt; Recreation yard fence is cut; quick reaction by guards is praised


Correctional officers foiled an attempted escape at the Maryland House of Correction Annex in Jessup yesterday morning when a guard noticed inmates behaving suspiciously near a recreation-yard fence.

Four inmates were sent to the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center in Baltimore -- known as Supermax -- for their roles in the attempt, said David B. Towers, a spokesman for the Division of Correction.

Towers said another inmate, who has a history of escape attempts, will be sent to another state through the Interstate Corrections Compact.

The five inmates, whose identities were not disclosed, are facing administrative sanctions and criminal charges of attempted escape, Towers said.

Yesterday, the annex, near Interstate 175, was locked down and visiting canceled as a result of the incident, Towers said.

"I want to send a clear message throughout the Division of Correction that this will not be tolerated," said Commissioner William B. Sondervan.

Sondervan praised the guards for their diligence and quick reactions.

Towers said that about 9: 20 a.m., an officer, who was not identified, noticed two inmates near a corner of the recreation yard fence staring at her. He said the officer notified other guards of a possible escape and more than two dozen inmates were immediately cleared from the yard.

By that time, two inmates had crawled through the recreation yard fence, Towers said, but they scurried back when officers arrived.

Officers discovered that two of the inmates had cut a 2-foot by 3-foot hole in the fence near the D Building housing unit, Towers said.

Three other inmates were discovered wearing at least five layers of clothing and carrying what he termed escape paraphernalia -- grappling hooks and rope.

Towers said a pair of toenail clippers was found on the ground near the fence but he could not say how they would have been used.

Towers said that four of the inmates were serving life sentences for first-degree murder convictions and one inmate had been sentenced to 100 years for auto theft, kidnapping, armed robbery and handgun and weapons violations.

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