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Comingling of Meanest and Greenest Prisoners Ordered to Cease in Maryland Prisons

A Maryland federal district court ordered prison officials at the Maryland State Penitentiary and the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center (MRDCC) to devise an efficient classification system to identify prisoners at risk of rape, and to implement procedures to prevent prisoners from MRDCC and the Penitentiary from co-mingling. This case was brought by an MRDCC prisoner who was raped during a riot. Because the Penitentiary and MRDCC are located on the same compound, there was comingling between prisoners from the two prisons. A comparison of the two prisons reveals the Penitentiary receives the “meanest” prisoners while the MRDCC receives the “greenest."

Because of substantial overcrowding of the two prisons, attempts to keep prisoners from the prisons from comingling were unsuccessful. This resulted in regular rapes upon MRDCC prisoners by prisoners from the Penitentiary. According to prison officials and several witnesses at the bench trial in this case, “the typical sexual assault victim is young, between seventeen and twenty-three years of age, with a small physical frame in the neighborhood of 125 to 130 pounds, and relatively new to the institution.” The Court held that given the well-entrenched institutional subculture that prison officials were well aware of, any serious deficiencies in actual prison procedures that allowed comingling of prisoners from the Penitentiary and MRDCC border on gross negligence that negates any good-faith defense. Prison officials knew that the typical sexual assault victims were “stalked, coerced, bribed, offered protection, or simply raped.”

The Court found prison authorities were taking steps to overcome the crowding problem. However, the Court required action be taken in the interim. The Court required prison officials take action within 60 days to implement their plan to prevent comingling of prisoners from the two prisons, and consult with

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