They were supposed to be guarding the inmates, not encouraging violent crime. A federal grand jury has officially charged another group of Maryland prison guards for their role in assisting a violent prison gang, according to local officials. Those corrections officers will be forced to mount criminal defense efforts against the charges, which allege the guards engaged in bribery and conspiracy. In all, 10 corrections officers have so far pleaded guilty to the crimes, and 19 other people have been implicated in the illegal activity. Those include inmates, employees and suppliers. Currently, six of the individuals have been suspended from their jobs at local detention facilities.
Authorities report that the officers and inmates developed close relationships, with one guard going so far as to live with a former inmate after his release. Other guards were also accused of aiding the gang members by telling them when searches would be conducted and even permitting inmates to keep their cellphones while in custody. The guards also reportedly opened jail cells or took other action to permit gang members to assault inmates who were not initiated into that organization. A shocking statistic estimates that three in four guards at the detention center were involved in some kind of misconduct such as smuggling.
With the Maryland prison system facing significant criticism from federal and state authorities, new leaders are attempting to purge illegal activities from the facilities. That includes indicting guards accused of misconduct. Many of the listed defendants are slated to make initial court appearances during upcoming weeks; they could spend up to two decades in prison each if convicted of the crimes.
Prison officials such as these could easily have been trapped in a climate of illegal activity, perhaps where they feared for their physical safety if they did not comply with the other employees. Criminal defense attorneys for these defendants can provide these individuals access to a fair trial, even if they do choose to plead guilty. These attorneys help ensure that the defendants' rights are protected throughout the entire courtroom proceeding.