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Female Correctional Officers and Male Inmates

The latest prison scandal involved a substantial number of women guards and gang members in Baltimore, Maryland. An investigation has revealed certain female correctional officers have smuggled cell phones, drugs,  and provided sex to members of the BGF gang in return for expensive gifts such as cars and jewellery. The leader of the gang impregnated four female correctional officers. The gang has controlled the prison for several years. This salacious story has raised the issue of female correctional officers guarding male prisons.  It is our opinion that the majority of female correctional officers do their best in a professional manner under trying circumstances. It would be better to determine how many of the female correctional officers involved in this scheme were from the same neighborhoods as the gang members.
The following article reported the Baltimore story by Lee-Anne Goodman – The Canadian Press, April 27, 2013

WASHINGTON – In a region of the U.S. usually consumed by politics and partisan bickering, the unfolding jailhouse drama in Maryland — where an imprisoned gang ringleader fathered five children with four separate female guards — is providing an enthralling distraction.

A sweeping prison corruption investigation went public this week as more than a dozen Maryland corrections officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center were accused of helping a prison gang run a drug-trafficking operation from their jail cells in a stunning story that seems lifted from a script of the acclaimed “The Wire” television series.

“It is definitely life imitating art,” Brenda Smith, a law professor at American University in D.C. who studies jailhouse sexual abuse, said in an interview Thursday.

In the U.S. capital, about an hour to the southwest of Baltimore, the story was receiving widespread play thanks to a litany salacious details, including the fact that two of the impregnated prison guards tattooed ringleader Tavon White’s name on their bodies.

White, 36, showered three of the guards with expensive gifts, including luxury cars and jewelry.

The four women — Jennifer Owens, 31, Katera Stevenson, 24, Chania Brooks, 27, and Tiffany Linder, 27 — are among 25 people, 13 of them female prison guards, who face federal charges that include drug conspiracy, money laundering and racketeering.

Federal law enforcement officials say the defendants conspired with or took bribes from members of White’s gang, the Black Guerilla Family, to smuggle drugs, cellphones and additional contraband in and out of the jail and several facilities connected to it.

The indictments allege that since 2009, the gang literally seized control of the jail where they were sent to serve their sentences.

“This is my jail; you understand that?” White, convicted of attempted murder in 2009, said according to a telephone transcript released by investigators.

“I’m dead serious …. I make every final call in this jail … and nothing go past me, everything come to me.”

The FBI expressed dismay in a statement released earlier this week.

“In this case, the inmates literally took over the asylum and the detention centres became safe havens for the BGF,” said special agent Stephen E. Vogt.

“Law enforcement should not have to concern itself with criminal subjects who have already been arrested and relegated to detention centres.”

Authorities finally grew wise to the scheme in February following a series of inspections by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services that revealed a cache of contraband.

“It becomes embarrassing for me when we expose ourselves and we participate in an investigation that’s going to show what’s going on in our jails that I am not proud of,” Gary Maynard, Maryland’s secretary of public safety and correctional services, said this week.

But it’s not so much White’s alleged actions that have stunned the nation.

Instead, the scandal has raised questions about why female prison guards would become intimately involved with their charges and whether it was appropriate to have women corrections officials guarding male inmates in the first place.

Smith says no one should be surprised — it’s happened before, and will undoubtedly happen again in a country where female corrections officers are growing ever more plentiful.

Due to soaring male incarceration rates, female prison guards now make up 37 per cent of corrections officers in the U.S., according to the American Correctional Association. In crime-plagued Baltimore, 60 per cent of the prison guards are women.

And yet Americans apparently believe women don’t behave badly, she points out.

“We seem to have adopted the most conservative notions of feminism on this story, which is not just that we are equal, but we’re actually better than men, that we’re more professional, more in control of our baser instincts, that we’re the keepers of morals,” she said.

“But we’re not taking into account that women get turned on too, both physically and by being in positions of power, and that we’re corruptible, and corrupted, as often as men are.”

In February, two female prison guards in New York were arrested for getting pregnant by inmates — one of whom was Ronell Wilson, who’s on death row for killing two cops.

In Montana, Michael Murphy, who’s serving a sentence for theft and forgery, managed to seduce no less than five female corrections workers — including the prison psychiatrist, who later confessed she knew full well he was manipulating her.

Yet Smith said she disputes the notion that the men are always the manipulators in jailhouse sex scandals of the type uncovered in Baltimore.

“That denies women their autonomy,” she said.

“These guys are attractive, they apparently have sexual energy, they’re magnetic, they’re powerful, and women gravitate towards them in jail just as they would out in the community.”

What’s more? Male inmates are in positions of vulnerability, Smith added.

“They’re emotionally available and attentive in ways that they might not have been out of prison. Mr. White may have been powerful, but these female guards had things that he wanted — they were in control of him, too,” she said.

According to a 2008-2009 Department of Justice report, the vast majority of prison guards who have sex with inmates are female, she points out.

“Among the 39,121 male prison inmates who had been victims of staff sexual misconduct, 69 per cent reported sexual activity with female staff,” the study found.

In juvenile facilities, the numbers are even more staggering. Ninety per cent of boys who complained of sexual harassment by prison officials said they were solicited, and often raped, by women.

“This is a problem that isn’t going away, and in fact may become more prevalent in the years to come,” Smith said.

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11 Responses to Female Correctional Officers and Male Inmates

  1. PrisonPath April 28, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

    By Mike–Willie I’ve always been a supporter of the death penalty but I’ve backed off that lately.In part because of the people on death rows who turned out to be innocent and partly from seeing prison cells and what life there is like. I think a life sentence is much worse.

    • A. Nonny Mouse December 9, 2013 at 5:25 am #

      To Prison Path: While I agree with you about what life is like on the inside, and the alarming number of wrongfully convicted innocent people among the inmate population, I support the death penalty in certain cases, like when you have a mass murderer who was caught red-handed, for instance – why should he be kept alive for years at the taxpayers’ expense, when he can just be shot for the cost of one bullet? And here we get into a very grey area of the law known as “reasonable doubt.” What exactly constitutes “reasonable?” When you are talking about a person’s life, isn’t even the remotest shadow of doubt reasonable? If you can’t prove guilt beyond the shadow of a doubt, then the person should be acquitted. This doesn’t happen for a number of reasons, but it mostly boils down to the fact that the system is flawed. It’s all about money. Prisons are a business. The courts generate revenue for the state, or county, or federal government. If you’re OJ, and you can afford Johnny Cochran, you get acquitted, but if you’re just a poor Native American who works for a living, and has to depend on a public pretender, then you do time, because someone is making money off your imprisonment. That’s the sad fact of the matter. Even if you don’t associate with known criminals, and you don’t have a history of violent behavior, or a prior criminal record, you can still be in the wrong place at the wrong time and be wrongfully convicted on circumstantial evidence, lies, trumped-up charges, etc. It’s sad, but it’s true. The system is broken, and I don’t know how to fix it.

  2. PrisonPath April 29, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    By James–Reversing the relational dynamic (Male Correctional Officers and Female Inmates) is just as problematic as the former… if staff fail to observe and follow the Letter and Spirit of correctional policies/procedures and the law.

  3. PrisonPath April 30, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    By Heather–My question is where are the cameras? We pay for cameras almost everywhere else in society, and to some degree they function as a deterrent of socially unacceptable behavior. All the money we spend on nonsense within the corrections facilities (cable, in some cases wine, etc), why don’t we invest in more cameras? Yes, human behavior is human behavior, and it probably won’t eliminate this problem totally. But, how many of these incidences actually occur where there are cameras? If people know they are being watched, they are less likely to “misbehave.” I’m up for suggestions as to why this won’t work, but for now I consider cameras as a tool to hold people accountable (both staff and inmates).

  4. PrisonPath May 16, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    By Forrest–I agree with Ms. Terri. This is not a gender issue. With over 30 years in Corrections, I can attest that I know quite a lot of female staff that were just as good or better than their male counterparts. I am willing to bet, without even being there, that Maryland’s problem is staff security backgrounds. A few years ago, Stateville Corr. Center in Joiliet IL had a big problem involving a Killer by the name of Richard Speck. Speck mailed a video tape to a National News desk. The end result of the investigation determined that numerous staff members were members or a family member of the Chicago Gangs. Background checks, cameras, training, etc. cost money. Most states are relunctant to spend the money.

  5. PrisonPath May 16, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    terri– Bad is bad; if the female prison guard population is increasing to 65% etc., then we’ll have bad women too. Where are the supervisors? Where is the training? Where are the cameras and oversight? This isn’t a gender issue (although a new twist, to be sure).

  6. A. Nonny Mouse December 9, 2013 at 4:48 am #

    I’ll admit to being incarcerated and bumping into a female CO that I had known previously on the street through family. She said “What are you doing in here” I told her that I was framed for something I didn’t do because I refused to snitch on people. She made life easier for me while I was there for several months. I won’t go into detail. Suffice it to say I had the cigarette hookup, and I ate good.

  7. Sandra Hemmes April 18, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    Well, no wonder guys like to get back into jail or prisons. Oh La La


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