Find Post Investigations On:
Facebook Scribd Twitter
Friendfeed RSS Google Reader
» About This Blog | Meet the Investigative Team | Subscribe
Ongoing Investigation

Top Secret America

The Post explores the top secret world the government created in response to the attacks of Sept. 11.

Ongoing Investigation

The Hidden Life of Guns

How guns move through American society, from store counter to crime scene.

Have a Tip?

Talk to Us

If you have solid tips, news or documents on potential ethical violations or abuses of power, we want to know. Send us your suggestions.
• E-mail Us

Categories

Post Investigations
In-depth investigative news
and multimedia from The Washington Post.
• Special Reports
• The Blog

Reporters' Notebook
An insider's guide to investigative news: reporters offer insights on their stories.

The Daily Read
A daily look at investigative news of note across the Web.

Top Picks
A weekly review of the best
in-depth and investigative reports from across the nation.

Hot Documents
Court filings, letters, audits and other documents of interest.

D.C. Region
Post coverage of investigative news in Maryland, Virginia and the District.

Washington Watchdogs
A periodic look into official government investigations.

Help! What Is RSS?
Find out how to follow Post Investigations in your favorite RSS reader.

Hot Comments

Unfortunately I believe that we are limited in what we can focus on. I think that if we proceed with the partisan sideshow of prosecuting Bush admin. officials, healthcare will get lost in the brouhaha.
— Posted by denamom, Obama's Quandary...

Recent Posts
Bob Woodward

The Washington Post's permanent investigative unit was set up in 1982 under Bob Woodward.


Archives
See what you missed, find what you're looking for.
Blog Archive »
Investigations Archive »

Have a Tip?
Send us information on ethics violations or abuses of power.
E-Mail Us »

Other
Investigations
Notable investigative projects from other news outlets.
On the Web »
Top Picks »

DC Region: Inmate Killing Highlights Jail Troubles

POSTED: 11:11 AM ET, 07/ 1/2008 by Derek Kravitz

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.

By Derek Kravitz |  July 1, 2008; 11:11 AM ET
Previous: The Long Road to the Cole Bombing Indictment | Next: Wrong Suspects Jailed in Notorious Explosion?

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



And this, Howie, is why the world yawned when Downie stepped down. This "Investigation" consists of a recap of previously reported stories. Investigative reporting is supposed to be Downie's forte, so this mediocrity does not speak well of his supervision.

Woodward must be writing a book.

Posted by: gbooksdc | July 1, 2008 11:55 AM

The Post will never touch this subject but the "problems" that this jail has faced is in direct relation to the people that they hire. When you bring in thugs off of the street and gang members and turn them into correctional officers there are obviously going to be problems. For the most part the correctional officers (not the police department) are just a step ahead of the inmates that the supervise.

Posted by: ThankGodImnotinPG | July 1, 2008 12:23 PM

Good, maybe they will worry about going to jail before they commit a crime. They need to kill each other.

Posted by: fbrothers | July 1, 2008 12:43 PM

I sympathize with the family of the inmate, but who is crying for the family of the dedicated police officer who put his life on the line everyday. This individual was not placed in jail for j-walking, but for murder. The inmate was a gang member, and had recently gotten out of jail. People will march outside the courthouse for the life of the criminal, but again who will speak for the dead policeman?

Posted by: concerned | July 1, 2008 1:29 PM

"For the most part the correctional officers (not the police department) are just a step ahead of the inmates that the supervise."

That comment revealed an astounding depth of ignorance regarding the work of corrections and the people who do it. You DO have some bad apples, just like the Police Department, the CIA, and the FBI, but like those agencies 95% of the people who work in this nation's jails prisons and penitentiaries are hardworking, dedicated, law abiding, and honest people.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 1:57 PM

"People will march outside the courthouse for the life of the criminal, but again who will speak for the dead policeman?"

Well, the courts and justice system WOULD have strove to do that, but now the state will simply put that case up in black and say it's solved. We may never know now, whether the officer's killer was truly found.

Posted by: Left of the Pyle | July 1, 2008 2:17 PM

It is a horrible thing to kill a police officer. This makes it all the more tragic that some individual has attempted to dishonor this officer by murdering the suspect in custody before he could be brought to trial. This was a selfish act of revenge which came at the expense of the fallen officer, as well as tarnishing our nation's system of laws under which we all choose to live. Cpl. Findley swore an oath and put his life on the line to defend this very system, and for another person to take vengeance into his own hands is an insult to this officer's legacy. Shame on anyone who would advocate this form of revenge...

Posted by: Steve | July 1, 2008 2:27 PM

I have to agree wholehearatedly with 1:29 and 1:57. People 'on the outside' have no idea what goes on inside a jail. Sure, there are bad apples in every profession -- like bad journalists, for instance. Recall that 'scandal' when a WaPo writer made up stories and won a Pulitzer Prize for it? Liberal newspaper reporters, with their Ivy League edumacation, sitting in their air conditioned offices stirring the pot over this poor unfortunate inmate. Yeah, sure. My brother worked for 25 in the Corrections field and could tell you stories that would curl your hair.

The inmate in this matter was no choir boy. The officer -- son, husband, and father -- lost his life in the line of duty. Brazenly plowed down by an F150 truck, mind you. Now watch the family of the dead inmate get the ACLU to cry crocodile tears over the dead perp. Give us a break.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 2:53 PM

how bout some payback

Posted by: sick tired | July 1, 2008 3:13 PM

ASK YOURSELF IF SOMEONE IN A PICKUP TRUCK TRIED TO RUN YOU DOWN AND YOU HAD A GUN. WHO WOULD YOU SHOOT THE DRIVER OR THE PASSANGER? THE DRIVER!!!
NO IN THIS WORLD WOULD SHOOT THE PASSENGER!
Note: Suspect passenger in the truck was shot not the driver. The suspect passenger that was shot said that dead suspect was the driver.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 3:59 PM

Last I saw he alegelly ran over the cop. Death should come naturly to all.

Pray for all

Posted by: Asidero | July 1, 2008 4:01 PM

When you sarcastically say "who will speak for the dead policeman," you miss the obvious. The answer is "all of us." Being stunned by this murder in jail does no disservice to Corporal Findley. Remember that, while this guy was probably a thug and a murderer, there are innocent people who go to jail. The ACLU serves its purpose, such as making sure people who are arrested don't summarily get the death penalty before they even get a trial.

Posted by: Mike | July 1, 2008 4:08 PM

ASK YOURSELF IF SOMEONE IN A PICKUP TRUCK TRIED TO RUN YOU DOWN AND YOU HAD A GUN. WHO WOULD YOU SHOOT THE DRIVER OR THE PASSANGER? THE DRIVER!!!
NO IN THIS WORLD WOULD SHOOT THE PASSENGER!
Note: Suspect passenger in the truck was shot not the driver. The suspect passenger that was shot said that dead suspect was the driver.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 4:09 PM

I think justice has been serve.Can you tell me who is going to tell the police officer's kids you will never see your dad again, can you see the prisoners family saying I'm sorry for their son's actions I think not so as far as I'm concern case close. I think that any cop killer should exterminated on the spot becouse not to have respect for the Law means not have respect for anyone at all and sooner or later that person could have done something even worse. Remember the old saying Eye for an Eye.

Posted by: Wil hernan | July 1, 2008 4:16 PM

4:09, you try aiming a gun at the driver when a truck is speeding toward you. Perfect aim only happens in the movies.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 4:28 PM

guilty until proven innocent i thought

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 5:10 PM

"For the most part the correctional officers (not the police department) are just a step ahead of the inmates that the supervise."

Spoken like an inmate! First, he was in his cell when this occurred which he most likely shared with two or more inmates, why jump to the conclusion it was done by correctional officers. Second, if the person that made this statement is actually employed, I'm sure the standards are much higher for being a C.O. as opposed to whatever it is you are doing. I work for a county agency as a C.O. and went through an extensive background check where family, friends and neighbors were interviewed. My agency performs two psychological evaluations, a polygraph test, an interview that resembles an interrogation and then if selected the candidate will go through a 14-week academy followed by two months of on the job training with a certified Field Training Officer. It is a tough job but C.O.s serve as counselors, medics, and police in the toughest neighborhoods of the country. I'd just prefer you say "thank you" and be on your way.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 5:26 PM

why have courts,police,judges,lawyers,jails

Posted by: Kevin M | July 1, 2008 5:26 PM

This is a tragedy on all sides. While Mr. White may very well have been convicted had he stood trial, we all should be outraged by what happened to him - to include Corporal Findley's family members. They have been denied their loved one and now have been denied justice. Mr. White will not face a murder trial. In the eyes of the law he dies an innocent man.

Posted by: Steve | July 1, 2008 5:37 PM

I feel like there is a good possibility that the killing of Mr. White was ordered by his gang the Kurupt Mindz to keep him from talking. He probably had a lot of information that he could have given to the police.

Posted by: Linda | July 1, 2008 5:55 PM

This jail is obviously corrupt. There are always 2 sides to any story. Is there a double standard here? He was arrested for "allegedly" running over a police officer. Then the perp was killed by a police officer. I thought police officers were held to a higher standard. Murder is murder. Is it ok for you to kill and hide like a coward, but when an ordinary person "allegedly" kills someone they don't get a fair trial?

Posted by: Gigi | July 1, 2008 5:57 PM

"That comment revealed an astounding depth of ignorance regarding the work of corrections and the people who do it. You DO have some bad apples, just like the Police Department, the CIA, and the FBI, but like those agencies 95% of the people who work in this nation's jails prisons and penitentiaries are hardworking, dedicated, law abiding, and honest people"

And your post shows an astounding depth of ignorance about who works in the the inner cities or the counties that share the same demographics. Perhaps you missed the case where a Bloods gang member was identified as working as a CO in the PG jail. Or the CO who was smuggling in cell phones in exchange for sex. Or the CO who was bringing in drugs.

Perhaps in the middle of Iowa your little idea of the perfect jail and a white staff might be true. But not in PG.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 6:03 PM

"feel like there is a good possibility that the killing of Mr. White was ordered by his gang the Kurupt Mindz to keep him from talking. He probably had a lot of information that he could have given to the police"


You are straight on in your reasoning. This will have nothing to do with a CO (or for the ignorant, the police who have nothing to do with the jail). Once this criminal got inside either his own gang or a rival gang had their chance. Even JJ, during his press conference, mentioned that inmates would questioned. Before we were hearing that only CO's would be suspects.

Posted by: Jay | July 1, 2008 6:07 PM

It was a sad day when I realized that prison guards have a national union. Its an organization that has a financial interest in seeing more people incarcerated. Ugh.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 6:09 PM

So correctional officers shouldn't be able to bargain for wages, working conditions, and retirement like fire fighters, police officers, and other public safety workers?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 6:34 PM

The suspect, Mr. White should have been moved to a jail on the Eastern Shore, say Caroline County, within 24 hours for his own safety.

He got what he deserved, and someone saved the taxpayers well over one million dollars, as he would have sat in prison for life. thank you.

Posted by: xpgcpd | July 1, 2008 8:27 PM

It has been reported over and over that prisoners are not moved on weekends because of logistical reasons.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 8:52 PM

Who cares? Good riddance.

Posted by: Percy Kution | July 2, 2008 12:16 AM

The policeman was killed in the line of duty, but his assailant was murdered by employees of the government. What is this, Red China? Russia? Zimbabwe? I don't especially care that the alleged killer is dead. I do care how he died, murdered by the state.

Posted by: Mike | July 2, 2008 12:27 AM

I am glad that Mike July 2, 2008 12:27 AM gave a reasoned response to Percy Kution (12:16 AM ). There is a difference between vigilante actions and murder and justice. There was a case (NY/NJ?) where a wrong person was caught during a police shooting, and he died -- later the police caught the right person. So a vigilante cop is a bad thing, right? We all need the protections of the law.

Posted by: Pete from NYC | July 2, 2008 2:31 AM

For all of you people sitting on here saying the suspect got what he deserved how the hell do you know that. Regardless of what you did no one deserves to die that way. This is obviously turning into a race issue and when people read your comments they will believe that you are white. How can anyone feel a loved one is safe in jail knowing or feeling that a government worker killed a inmate. Justice needs to be served and it needs to be served now.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2008 4:05 PM

It became a race issue when the God Damn NAACP is outraged at this stupid afterbirth of society getting erased.

Where is their outrage over the police officer getting run down and dragged for hundreds of yards.

This isn't a tribal nation run by deficient beings like Zimbabwe, Kenya, et al. This is justice, the only kind animals understand.

Posted by: Haggis | July 2, 2008 9:23 PM

get up off bill clinton... it's been 8 years since he was involved with this jail... you should be busting on Bob Erlich, the former governor of maryland for letting the corrections system in maryland deteriorate on his watch and under his [lack of] leadership in this area. Place the blame on Bob Erlich and his administration -- where it belongs!

Posted by: frank | July 3, 2008 1:16 PM

Posted by: Percy Kution | July 2, 2008 12:16 AM
"Who cares?..."

Americans should!
Either we live as individuals and a nation to uphold our laws (imperfect as they be), or accept the fact that we can be & ARE every bit as unfair, unjust, and cruel as the criminals & "terrorist" that we so eagerly direct our policies against.

Posted by: xpgcpd | July 1, 2008 8:27 PM "He got what he deserved, and someone saved the taxpayers well over one million dollars, as he would have sat in prison for life. thank you."

Don't worry, the civil lawsuit & judgment( probable settlement) for this murder will cost the county at least that much just in court costs.

Also, what about the memory of that poor officer. He died in the line of duty while upholding the law. The same laws we want to turn a blind eye to when it suits us.

STOP trying to cherry pick WHICH laws you want to follow and WHEN you want to follow them, America. It's a sad day when we start actually believing our own BS.

Posted by: Rod | July 4, 2008 2:10 AM

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company