Detainee's escape blamed on error


A Howard County Detention Center detainee who escaped last month from Howard County General Hospital was left alone briefly in a bathroom, where he slipped out of leg irons and fled through an adjoining door.

About 7 a.m. Dec. 31, Jejuan D. Griffin, who was restrained in leg irons, asked a correctional officer to be allowed to use the bathroom, said Victoria Goodman, a county government spokeswoman.

The officer "made an error in judgment by partially closing the bathroom door (for privacy reasons) and thereby failed to maintain full visual contact of the inmate while he was using the bathroom," as is correctional department policy, Goodman said in a written statement.

"During that brief period of time, the inmate was able to free himself from the leg irons and exit through the adjoining bathroom door," the statement said.

Goodman said the officer was communicating with members of the medical staff when the prisoner escaped.

Since then, the Corrections Department has taken "appropriate personnel action against the officer," Goodman said. She declined to elaborate on the consequences for the officer, saying it was a personnel matter.

Griffin, 20, was taken by police to the hospital's emergency room for treatment the day before he escaped. A correctional officer took custody of him at 7 p.m. Dec. 30, and early the next morning he was placed in a room that shared a bathroom with an adjoining room, Goodman said.

She said the department is reviewing the incident to prevent a recurrence.

Immediately after Griffin's escape, Howard police officers, aided by dogs and a helicopter, searched the area around the hospital in Columbia for several hours.

Howard County police have offered a $500 reward for information leading to the capture of Griffin, who has lived at various addresses in Laurel.

Griffin was charged with drug distribution and other crimes, police said. Anyone with information can call police at 410-313-3200.

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