February 2012 Archives

Inmates to Lose Jail Good-Time Credits for Cell Phone Possession

February 27, 2012

1307594_mobile_phone_in_hand.jpgPrison inmate's sentences are currently up for debate in the Maryland legislature, but it's the inmates who have been doing the talking. A bill before the Maryland State Senate calls for an automatic reduction in the amount of good-time credits a sentenced inmate typically receives by the Maryland Division of Corrections if that inmate is caught possessing a cell phone while incarcerated. The bill was presented to the Legislature by Senator Shank, a republican from Washington county.

Those if favor of the bill argue that an inmate who gets his hands on a cell phone places the corrections officers and other inmates at risk, as well as the outside community. Inmates have the ability to organize potentially dangerous actions within the prison walls in addition to being able to conduct criminal activity, such as drug trafficking or witness intimidation beyond the prison walls.

Under Maryland law, cell phones are telecommunication devices that are considered contraband. Contraband such as cell phones, radios, or any other devices that transmit communications are prohibited in places of confinement. Possession of contraband in a place of confinement is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment, and a $1000 fine. The bill currently up for debate would not change or take the place of this misdemeanor, but rather would serve as additional punishment by affecting the sentence an inmate is already serving on an unrelated crime.

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Baltimore Police Officers Found Guilty of Extortion

February 24, 2012

546518_baltimore_city_3.jpgBaltimore City police officers were recently found guilty of conspiracy under color of law, and extortion in Federal criminal court. A Federal jury found one officer guilty after trial, and the other accepted a negotiated guilty plea hours before the jury began deliberating. Federal sentencing guidelines provide a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison for conspiracy under color of law, and a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for extortion. A Federal judge will hand down the sentence for the officer, from Edgewood Maryland, convicted at trial at sentencing hearing in March.

These Baltimore City police officers were the last two officers to be found guilty in perhaps the largest police misconduct scandal in the Baltimore Police Department's history. A total of seventeen officers were charged and convicted of crimes of misconduct including extortion and conspiracy. The scandal began as a kickback scheme where Baltimore officers were paid by a body shop for car accident referrals. More than sixty officers were named as recipients of the kickback money, but only seventeen were charged in Federal court.

The investigation was initiated by the Baltimore Police Department's internal affairs division, but was later turned over to the FBI. The FBI did not take part in seizing the accused officer's badges, a job that Baltimore Police Commissioner Bealefeld III handled personally. The corrupt cops were a reportedly summoned to the police department's training academy under the guise of a routine weapons check. Upon arrival at the academy, the accused officers were no doubt surprised to learn that their kickback scheme had been exposed, and their careers as police officers came to an abrupt but well deserved end.

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