Maryland's public safety secretary works to curb corruption at state prisons

Posted at 5:34 PM, Oct 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-06 18:28:34-04

Eighteen correctional officers, 35 inmates and 27 other so-called facilitators were all indicted for running a racketeering conspiracy in both wings of a 620-acre medium security prison on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

It was a ring so big, it was already a target on the very first day in office for Department of Public Safety and Corrections Services Secretary Stephen Moyer.

"Jan. 20, 2015, I started this job. Within three weeks I met with the U.S. Attorney. I was familiar with this case and I immediately assigned investigators to work with the FBI," he said. 

Moyer says this was a wiretap case with lots of personnel.

RELATED: 80 indicted in racketeering, drug conspiracy at Eastern Shore correctional facility

What they found was a conspiracy that existed in, out and running through this facility in Somerset County.

According to the indictment, correctional officers made thousands smuggling in drugs, tobacco and cellphones which were also used to pay off corrections officers via Pay Pal.

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Officers would swap sex for contraband and have stash locations all over the prison.

If this all sounds familiar, it is

Back in 2013, much of the same allegations were leveled at officers, inmates and gang members at the Baltimore City Jail, but Moyer says this case wasn’t that organized.

"These were individuals. It wasn’t a gang organized corruption case. Individuals were being influenced by people from the outside to distribute contraband within the prison south of Salisbury," Moyer said.

Still, the script looks much the same, a corruption the secretary says he has been taking several steps to curb since he took the job nearly two years ago, including a tip line, a larger internal affairs staff and more surprise inspections.

"We are doing more unannounced contraband interdiction initiatives. We show up, we search employees coming to work, we search the parking lot and we are getting the message out there."

Moyer also says his department is hiring better people.

He has implemented tougher background checks that include polygraphs tests and says since last year, out of 4,000 people who applied to be a correctional officer, only about 300 have been hired.

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