A smooth getaway “No cage, no cuffs, no cell phone, no radio and, for prisoner, no problem”

The man who escaped from a state prison van on his way to Baltimore Circuit Court on Tuesday didn’t have a very difficult time of it.

The corrections officer driving the van told a judge yesterday that she didn’t normally transport prisoners to court but had missed a morning drop-off in Jessup with other officers who were supposed to take him to Baltimore.

After a conversation with a supervisor, Officer Deborah Barron said, she believed she had orders to bring him downtown herself.

She took a regular van that lacked cages and any other security features. She didn’t have handcuffs, either.
But she put Marcus Anderson – a 6-foot, 3-inch, 220-pound convicted drug dealer who was facing gun charges – next to her in the front passenger seat anyway.

When she stopped at a red light at Baltimore and South streets, Anderson opened the door, “leaped out” and ran away in a light blue, V-neck Division of Corrections shirt, Barron said.

She couldn’t call for help – she had no cell phone or radio. The light changed, and impatient commuters started honking at her, so she drove on to the courthouse alone, she said.

Anderson hasn’t been caught, but yesterday Judge Charles G. Bernstein allowed his trial on charges of illegally possessing a firearm to move forward anyway.

After listening to the details of the less-than-thrilling escape, the judge asked a corrections lieutenant investigating the incident whether Barron had given Anderson “bus tokens, too?”

As the lieutenant, Arturo Perez, testified, Bernstein, who is known for his bluntness, frequently shook his head in disbelief and buried his head in his hands.

“If I were a young enterprising criminal, I’d come to Baltimore to set up my practice,” he said with evident sarcasm. “This is the place to be. This is the Promised Land.”

He called the circumstances of the escape “outrageous.”

“Maybe I’ll get reversed” by a higher court, Bernstein said of his decision to move forward with Anderson’s trial. “Defendants just can’t think, ‘I don’t want to go to trial today. I’m going to escape.’ I’m not going to give him a continuance given his actions.”

Margaret Burns, a spokeswoman for prosecutors, said that it was important to push for a trial because Anderson’s co-defendant in the gun case has “speedy trial rights” and the office is “vigorously” prosecuting gun cases as part of an initiative with the Baltimore Police Department.

Rick Binetti, a spokesman for the state Corrections Department, said that many procedures were not followed, leading up to the morning escape, and that the department was investigating.

As of yesterday, Barron was under internal investigation but had not faced any disciplinary action.

Binetti said that the department transports about 5,500 criminals to court each month and that such lapses are rare.

Barron testified yesterday that she picked up Anderson, 22, in the lobby of the department’s Pre-Release Unit in Jessup and took him to a “road crew” van – a standard, unmodified passenger van.

At about 9 a.m., she drove him a half-block to the adjacent Brockbridge Correctional Facility, where a transport unit should have been waiting to take him to court, she said.

When she got there, Barron said, she was told that the transport van had already left.

She reported the problem to a supervisor, who replied, “Oh Lord. OK,” and hung up, Barron said.

Supervisors didn’t tell Barron to bring Anderson to court “in so many words, but they didn’t tell me to bring him back,” she said, later adding, “I assumed they wanted me to take him on downtown.”

Perez said Barron had “left the cell phone she was supposed to carry.”

But Barron said the department had not issued her one that day. The van she was driving, which is normally used to transport inmates working on road crews, did not have a radio, she said.

Barron, a 19-year veteran of the Corrections Department, testified that after Anderson fled, “there was nothing for me to do but proceed. I had a green light. Vehicles were blowing their horns. I reported to the garage [at the courthouse] … and notified the sheriff, the Jessup Pre-Release Unit and 911.”

Anderson, of the 800 block of Herndon Court in South Baltimore, was serving a three-year sentence for violating his probation in a drug-dealing case. A separate drug conviction sparked the probation violation.

Anyone with information about his escape is asked to call 911.
source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/baltimore_city/bal-te.md.ci.escape03jul03,0,7676071.story

Corrections staff suspended over lost file ( updated)

The Corrections Department staff member who lost a sensitive confidential file last month has been suspended, chief executive Barry Matthews has revealed.

Corrections boss Barry Matthews

Corrections boss Barry Matthews

The confidential dossier which contained the names, addresses and other personal details of some of the country’s most notorious paroled criminals was found on an Auckland street by a former Corrections employee.

Mr Matthews today told Parliament’s law and order committee the staffer was not aware the file was lost until it was reported in the media.

“The individual concerned has been suspended. We’ve got an employment investigation under way and there will obviously be some sanction for that carelessness.”

The original document had been returned and the department had also moved to ensure any other copies had been destroyed or returned.

Mr Matthews said a copy had been “uplifted” with a search warrant from the office of the New Zealand Herald, while TV3 had written to the department, saying it had destroyed its copy.

The department was not aware of other copies.

Written answers to the committee’s questions show the employee is one of 25 currently suspended on full pay.

Those 25 are part of 82 employment investigations currently under way – equating to just over 1 per cent of the department’s staff.

The papers say the number is similar to previous years, with 26 staff suspended at June 30 last year. The papers do not give reasons for the suspensions.

Mr Matthews also answered questions on the confidential documents relating to the prosecution of those allegedly responsible for death of Rotorua toddler Nia Glassie, which a person claimed to have found at an Auckland dump.

The files were handed, as police are required to do under disclosure rules, to Brian Foote, lawyer for one of the accused, Oriwa Kemp.

The cardboard box, containing nearly 1000 pages of classified police material, appeared to end up at the tip after being taken out of prison by a person visiting Kemp.

They included forensic and autopsy reports, family files from Child, Youth and Family, Nia’s medical history and transcripts of interviews with Nia’s mother, Lisa Kuka.

Police are investigating how the documents ended up at the tip.

Mr Matthews said the whole sequence of events seemed strange and he had called in the department’s professional standards managers to have a look at the department’s part in the events.

“I’m suspicious they were found where they were claimed,” he said.

“I just find it hard to believe they were just tossed out in the rubbish and ended up in some rubbish bag in the tip that was just fortuitously found. I think there is a lot more to be established.”

 UPDATE: Another secret Corrections dossier found on street

The Department of Corrections is remaining tight-lipped about a second confidential document which has been found by a member of the public on the streets – just weeks after another near-identical incident.

The latest document – handed to the media after being given to the mother of an offender – contained personal details of 22 people under night curfews who were required to wear ankle bracelets.

Auckland woman Yvonne Kiel told 3 News she was handed the papers by her neighbour, who had spotted her son’s name on the list.

Corrections yesterday confirmed that the list was from the department but said there was no evidence to back up the claim it had been left in a street.

A spokesman refused to make any further comment.

Last month, a confidential dossier with the names, addresses and other details of some of the country’s most notorious paroled criminals was picked up off an Auckland street by a former Corrections Department employee. Following that, a box of confidential police documents relating to the Nia Glassie child abuse homicide was found at an East Tamaki tip.

Corrections has confirmed it is investigating the possibility a disgruntled staff member smuggled the Glassie documents out of an Auckland women’s prison.

A staff member responsible for losing the paroled offenders dossier has since been suspended but it is not clear if they were also responsible for the Nia Glassie files or the recent night-curfews list.

Corrections Minister Phil Goff had little to say about the latest incident. His spokesman said chief executive Barry Matthews was investigating the incident and would report back to the minister once that was completed.

National Party law and order spokesman Simon Power said it was time the public had answers about what was going on inside Corrections.

“It is extremely odd and very concerning that three separate incidents have occurred in such quick succession. You can’t discount the possibility now that it’s not just the public that have got a problem with confidence in the department.”

source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10520065&ref=rss