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Western Maryland prison on lockdown after assault on guards

A prison in Western Maryland is on lockdown after at least one recent assault by inmates on correctional officers, and union officials have planned a meeting with the secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services this week.

According to Patrick Moran, president of the Maryland chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents state correctional officers, two officers were assaulted by gang-affiliated inmates Tuesday at North Branch Correctional Institution. Earlier this month, three officers were assaulted by gang-affiliated inmates in three separate incidents at the maximum-security facility near Cumberland, Moran said.

Mark Vernarelli, a state corrections spokesman, confirmed the most recent assault, which he said happened in a dining room and involved two inmates. He did not address the earlier alleged assault in an email.

"The DPSCS Internal Investigative Unit has moved to ensure that both inmates face charges of assault," he said. "They may also face transfer to an out-of-state facility."

Neither officer was seriously injured, Vernarelli said, though one was taken to the hospital as a precaution after a head injury.

"Officers at NBCI were told in roll call that intelligence officers intercepted an inmate phone call tipping them off that the latest assaults were looming," Moran said in a statement. "They knew it was going to happen. ... What is the department's plan to stop this spike in gang violence against correctional officers immediately? We want answers and we want action."



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