Smith: Prison Scandal Demands Full Accounting

Apr 24, 2013

A shocking level of corruption has been uncovered at the Baltimore City Detention Center. Unbeknownst to inmate Tavon White, federal authorities were listening when he called himself  “the law.” 

“I hold the highest seat you can get,” he told another inmate. “So regardless of what anybody say, whatever I say is the law. Like, I am the law. Whatever I say is the law.” Federal authorities say the conversation was heard on a wiretap.

Known as “Bulldog” at the jail, White is said to actually be the law in a group called the Black Guerilla Family, operating freely until recently at the city jail. Federal officials say he was able to control some criminal activity on the street in Baltimore from his cell.

Surely one of the most crime and corruption-ridden places in Baltimore turns out to be a jail. Drugs and cell phones and other contraband apparently came in as if ordered from an on-line, one-day delivery service. Guards, the men and women charged with order at the prison, made the deliveries, authorities allege.

Tavon White’s claim of authority is reflected also in the fact, officials say, that he got four of the guards pregnant. Two of them reportedly had his name tattooed on their arms.

Racketeering and drug charges have been lodged against 25 people, including 13 women working as guards at the prison.  Jail authorities, officials allege, offered to allow White’s activities if he would maintain order in the lockup.  

At a press conference, Gary Maynard, the state’s prison boss, took responsibility. An audit has been completed, but The Sun reported that Maynard declined to release its findings. 

Governor O’Malley should intercede.  Marylanders must demand every bit of information available. No one is surprised about criminal activity in prisons, but the spectacle of a prison as safe house for crime demands a system-wide, prison-by- prison accounting without delay.