- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 27, 2006

BALTIMORE — Two inmates, who may have freed themselves by jamming the locks of their cells, were charged in the fatal stabbing Tuesday night of a corrections officer, authorities said yesterday.

Maryland State Police obtained warrants late last night charging inmates Lamar C. Harris, 26, and Lee E. Stephens, 27, with first- and second-degree murder in the killing of Correctional Officer David McGuinn, 42, at the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup.

The slaying, initially reported as involving three inmates, was the latest in a surge of violence at the House of Correction, an institution dating to the 19th century that prison officials say is outmoded and correctional officers say is understaffed.

Officer McGuinn was the state’s second correctional officer killed in the line of duty this year. Jeffery A. Wroten, 44, of Martinsburg, W.Va., died Jan. 27, a day after he was shot in the face with his own gun, reportedly by an inmate he was guarding at a Hagerstown hospital.

Before that, the last corrections officer killed in the line of duty inside a prison was Herman L. Toulson Jr., who was stabbed in 1984 by an inmate at the former Maryland Penitentiary in Baltimore.

“We have lost another family member, and our hearts are heavy, but we will not be deterred,” said Division of Correction Commissioner Frank C. Sizer Jr. “We will continue to confront acts of violence in our prisons.”

Officials did not provide information about Officer McGuinn’s hometown or family. He has been with the prison system about two years.

About 10 p.m. Tuesday, Officer McGuinn was conducting an inmate count on the maximum-security prison’s fourth-floor tier, which holds 47 inmates in individual cells, said Maj. Priscilla Doggett, a corrections division spokeswoman. Harris and Stephens left their cells, attacked Officer McGuinn and returned to their cells.

Officer McGuinn used his radio to summon help, then managed to get to the second-floor landing, where other corrections officers found him bleeding profusely from stab wounds to his upper torso, Maj. Doggett said.

He died at 11:03 p.m. at Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie.

No more inmates are expected to be charged, state police said. No further information on the suspects, including why they were incarcerated, was available.

Maj. Doggett said the prison was already on lockdown.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, said Officer McGuinn’s death “reminds you of how dangerous that job is.”

“We have people who could make far more money in less dangerous jobs,” he said. “Our thought and prayers go to the family and our thanks go to the people who put on that uniform every day.”

The 1,100-bed prison was built in 1878 and has been on lockdown, a security measure that includes searches to find contraband, for several periods in the past few months because of attacks on staff and inmates, authorities said.

Inmates assaulted two officers in April. Authorities said two inmates were stabbed to death by other inmates in May. Another inmate was stabbed to death last week, reportedly by a fellow prisoner.

Officials do not think the assaults are related, but are investigating.

Mr. Sizer said the age of the prison — the state’s oldest maximum-security facility — contributes to the problem.

Corrections officials installed additional equipment last week to scan for cell phones and metal contraband.

Mr. Sizer appointed a new warden, Wendell M. “Pete” France, on Monday and gave him broad authority to make changes to tighten security.

Security teams from other institutions were transferred temporarily to Jessup after the attack on Officer McGuinn.

However, the correctional officers’ union said those measures may not be enough and that the prison has 47 unfilled positions.

Maj. Doggett said the prison system is trying to fill vacant positions as quickly as possible.

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