County Inmates Able To Pick Locks; Emergency Work Ordered To Replace

SNOW HILL — Failing cell gates in the maximum security wing of the Snow Hill jail will be receiving an emergency replacement.
Warden Gary Mumford met with the Worcester County Commissioners Tuesday to discuss the malfunctioning locks, which have already allowed prisoners more movement than they are permitted to have.
“Over the past two months, the cell gates in the maximum security of the jail have become more unreliable,” wrote Mumford in a memo to the commission. “The inmates have been able to manipulate the locking mechanisms and open the security gates of their cells as well as the cells of other inmates. This situation creates the potential for injury to inmates and officers.”
Commission President Bud Church asked if any inmates were caught far into the prison.
“Did you find someone wandering around the jail that wasn’t supposed to be there?” he asked.
The lock malfunction didn’t allow anyone in maximum security that much freedom, said Mumford, but did let a few of the more creative prisoners out of their cells and into other inmates’ cells.
Two contractors where brought in to examine the lock devices and both agreed that they were obsolete and needed a complete overhaul.
“Each contractor recommended that these current devices be replaced with modern detention retro-fit sliding door operations,” wrote Mumford.
Because of the emergency nature of the repair, the bid process was waived and the lower bid of the two contractors, $110,720 from Jailcraft Inc, was immediately accepted. Because it was considerably lower than the $162,650 bid from Southern Folger, Commissioner Jim Bunting asked Mumford if he was comfortable with the discrepancy.
“I don’t mean to be paranoid but are you satisfied with this?” Bunting asked.
Mumford replied that he was and trusted Jailcraft’s past work at the prison.
Between waiting on parts and construction, Mumford estimated that it will be about two months before the cell gates have been refitted, with an optimistic early prediction of a Jan. 1 completion. For the time being, the area is not being used by prisoners.