Tags: 500 | cells | unlock | jail

500 Cells Unlock Accidentally at Same Time at Maryland Jail

Monday, 29 Apr 2013 02:25 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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Officials declared a security emergency at a Maryland county jail last week after a computer glitch unlocked 500 cells, but, surprisingly, no inmates tried to escape.

Officials at the Montgomery County Jail confirmed that the cells were unlocked around 12:20 a.m. Saturday. A similar problem also caused some cell doors to open earlier in the week as well.

The locks were quickly reset in each case, according to Arthur Wallenstein, director of the county’s Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, but 20 police cars were called to patrol the perimeter of the jail just in case.

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"It’s definitely a problem," Wallenstein told the Washington Post. "We must find the source of it. Any security door opening in an unexpected manner constitutes a major security problem."

County maintenance workers and outside contractors were in the jail Saturday working on the system to find a permanent fix for the doors, Wallenstein said. The doors are part of an electronic system guided by computer programs and corrections officers.

"We’ve been replacing our detention electronic system over the last several years," Wallenstein said.

Wallenstein pointed out that the glitch only affected the actual cell doors, not the housing unit doors or the hallway doors. Inmates would have had to get past those and corrections officers placed at every entrance and exit to actually escape.

The jail was operating normally and the security emergency detail had been called off by Sunday morning. The facility holds around 1,000 inmates and is the main jail for Montgomery County, Md.

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