LETTER FROM BALTIMORE: This Is My Jail

CV1_TNY_04_14_14Blitt.inddHello Baltimore! Once again, we’re in the national spotlight for sex, drugs, murder and corruption!

In this week’s New Yorker magazine (pictured left), legal columnist Jeffrey Toobin rehashes the embarrassing scandal of Tavon White, the Black Guerilla Family gang (and their extensive “Framily” cell phone plan), and corrupt female correctional officers at the place a former state attorney general once called “the innermost circle of hell in the Maryland prison system”:  the  Baltimore City Detention Center. – Tom Warner, BoL

Where gang members and their female guards set the rules

By Jeffrey Toobin (New Yorker, April 14, 2014)

While awaiting trial, the gang's leader fathered  by four guards.

While awaiting trial, the gang’s leader fathered five children by four guards.

On January 5, 2013, Tavon White, an inmate at the Baltimore City Detention Center, had a cell-phone conversation that was intercepted on an F.B.I. wiretap. “This is my jail, you understand that,” White told an unidentified friend. “I’m dead serious. I make every final call in this jail. . . . Everything come to me. Before a motherfucker hit a nigga in the mouth, guess what they do—they gotta run it through me. I tell them whether it’s a go ahead and they can do it or whether they hold back. Before a motherfucker stab somebody, they gotta run it through me.” White was a leader of a gang called the Black Guerrilla Family. The gang had such control over inmates in the facility that, as White put it in another phone call, “I got elevated to the seat where as though nobody in the jail could outrank me. . . . Like, I am the law. . . . So if I told any motherfucking body they had to do this, hit a police, do this, kill a motherfucker, anything, it got to be done. Period.”

White, who was facing trial for the attempted murder of a fellow gang member in a dispute over drug turf, controlled B.C.D.C. inmates by directing an underground economy, based principally on the sale of drugs. The B.C.D.C. holds between two thousand and twenty-three hundred inmates at a time, and the authorities estimate that about half are addicts of one kind or another. White and his gang supplied the demand by smuggling and selling tobacco, marijuana, prescription drugs, and food. Most important, though, was the Black Guerrilla Family’s control of cell phones inside the jail, because money changed hands through the use of the phones. Inmates paid for drugs and other contraband by texting fourteen-digit numbers to load money onto Green Dot MoneyPak cards belonging to Black Guerrilla Family members inside and outside the facility. Gang leaders, in turn, used the Green Dot cards to pay their suppliers and enjoy their profits. White bought a BMW and a Mercedes-Benz while he was an inmate.

Gangs and drugs have plagued prisons for decades, but the problems at the B.C.D.C. were extreme. Notably, too, many of the crimes were perpetrated by women. Seventy-five per cent of the six hundred and fifty correctional officers in the facility were women, and, according to one inmate witness, between sixty and seventy-five per cent of them were involved in “contraband smuggling and/or having sexual relationships with inmates.” According to the government, Tavon White had sexual relationships with four guards and fathered five children by them. (One of the guards had “Tavon” tattooed on her wrist; another had the name on her neck.) An inmate and gang member named Jamar Anderson was involved with five guards. Female guards smuggled the contraband into the facility, concealing it “in their underwear, hair, internally and elsewhere,” according to a government filing. The guards were subject to cursory or nonexistent searches when they entered the premises, and they also brought in the cell phones for the inmates to use, even though correctional officers were forbidden to carry phones while working. . . .

Continue reading “This Is My Jail” at www.newyorker.com.

 

 

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