DC Region: Inmate Killing Highlights Jail Troubles
The asphyxiation death of a 19-year-old inmate charged with killing a Prince George's County police officer is only the latest in a string of problems for the county's jail.
When it first opened two decades ago, the Prince George's County Correctional Center in Upper Marlboro was hailed as a "new generation" jail, with endless coffee and juice, exercise bicycles, weight machines and cable television for inmates -- as long as they obeyed the rules. Corrections officials from across the country dropped in to tour it. In 1994, President Bill Clinton chose it as his stage to announce a national drug policy.
But the jail grew increasingly violent and became so crowded that, at its present staffing level, it cannot be fully locked down. The jail's population has risen by 47 percent in the past six years, more than double the authorized percentage.
Those figures only further exacerbate the death of Ronnie L. White in a cell inside the crowded facility. The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that White had two broken bones in his neck and ruled his death a homicide, The Post's Aaron C. Davis and Rosalind S. Helderman report.
White, a resident of the Laurel area in Howard County with connections to a street gang called Kurupt Mindz, was jailed after he was charged with first-degree murder in the death of 39-year-old Cpl. Richard S. Findley. According to police charging documents, on Friday morning in Laurel, White "intentionally accelerated" a large pickup he was driving toward the officer, striking and dragging him in a parking lot.
Among some of the jail's recent problems:
-- Alfred J. McMurray Sr., a 25-year veteran of the county Corrections Department and director of corrections for Prince George's County, was fired June 4 after four 9mm Berettas were found to be missing from the jail's armory.
-- In March, a corrections officer was accused of smuggling cellphones into the jail for inmates is a suspected member of the Bloods street gang. Three other corrections officers were suspended as a result of the investigations. Another corrections officer was charged with armed robbery and assault.
-- Also in March, former Prince George's County homeland security official Keith A. Washington, jailed awaiting sentencing for fatally shooting a furniture deliveryman and wounding another, was found with a handcuff key and had a "clear intention of escaping," according to court documents.
-- In August, a man was mistakenly released from the jail's hospital after being charged with sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl. He later surrendered to authorities.
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