Corrections officers failed to follow jail policy and left doors unlocked Saturday, allowing a female inmate in the maximum-security wing of the Cumberland County Jail to leave her cell and enter the cell of a male inmate to have sex with him, Sheriff Kevin Joyce said Monday.

Officers left two doors unlocked at the top of a stairwell separating the maximum-security sections for men and women to make it easier to serve lunch. The inmates tampered with the locks of their own cell doors, and the two unlocked doors gave the woman access to a locked-down area, Joyce said.

The sheriff’s office adopted new policies after a similar breach in 2012, but those policies were not followed Saturday, he said.

“I know that being a corrections officer is a tough job, serving the plates and the trays, up the stairs, down the stairs, requiring someone to open the door every time is a hardship, but it is a maximum-security unit and we anticipate the maximum-security unit is going to be the tightest area in the Cumberland County Jail,” Joyce said at a news conference Monday.

Joyce would not say whether any officers will be reprimanded or what disciplinary action might be taken. He said he would let an investigation take its course before making any decision.

“Right now we have an internal investigation looking at any policy violation, any equipment issues and really going over and making sure where our policies can be tightened, so I will know that at the completion of the investigation,” he said.

Any disciplinary action taken against officers would likely not be made public because personnel matters are confidential, Joyce said.

Saturday’s incident was the second in two years in which inmates in maximum-security cells at the county jail left their cells to have sex.

In March 2012, guards propped open the same two doors that were left unlocked Saturday to keep the doors from slamming and making noise while guards made security checks – a procedure that’s no longer allowed. A male inmate tampered with his lock, got out of his cell and sneaked over to the female cellblock, where he had sex with an inmate. He was caught trying to get back to his own cell about an hour later.

“The maximum-security unit is the jail of the jail, so we want that to be fortified and secure,” Joyce said.

Guards are required to keep doors in the maximum-security area locked at all times, check cell locks every 15 minutes, and ensure that the person they see in each cell is an actual “living, breathing” person, he said.

On Saturday, Renee Glantz, 23, of Windham and Michel D’Angelo, 34, of Middleboro, Mass., jammed the locks of their cell doors with cardboard from toilet paper rolls to prevent the doors from locking, Joyce said.

Neither Glantz nor D’Angelo will face any criminal charges, but will they face internal sanctions from the jail, Joyce said.

Glantz is in jail for allegedly violating probation in a case involving drug charges. D’Angelo is being held for the U.S. Marshals Service while awaiting sentencing for robbing the Kennebunk Savings Bank in Berwick in 2012. He pleaded guilty last month in U.S. District Court in Portland and faces as much as 20 years in prison.

The two spent about 3½ hours together in D’Angelo’s cell and had consensual sex before a guard discovered them during a random security check around 2:45 p.m., Joyce said.

The two admitted that they had sex, but refused to say anything else, the sheriff said.

“The good thing about this is that we’re talking about an inmate having sex with another inmate. We’re not talking about, God forbid, planning a funeral for one of my corrections officers because of a temporary lapse of judgment of leaving the doors unlocked, because that quite frankly could have happened,” Joyce said.

He said the breach posed no public threat because, to escape, the inmates would have had to go through six or seven more locked doors.

Maximum-security inmates are confined to their cells 20 hours a day. Joyce said Glantz told guards that she didn’t feel well and returned to her cell from a day room.

She then put a sign on the window in her door saying she didn’t want her medication, Joyce said. The guard who was delivering medication looked through the window, but Glantz had used her blankets and pillows to make it look like she was in bed. By then, she was likely in D’Angelo’s cell, the sheriff said.

Joyce said the two probably arranged the meeting by yelling into heating ducts, the same thing that officials believe the two inmates did in 2012.

Glantz and D’Angelo would not have had any other contact, unless they spoke while being taken to see visitors, Joyce said. He said he didn’t know if the two knew each other before they were jailed.

Joyce said the two did not appear to have a plan for getting Glantz back into her cell before they were discovered.

State Rep. Mark Dion, who preceded Joyce as Cumberland County sheriff, said it is too early for him to judge what happened, either in his capacity as former sheriff or in his current role as a co-chairman of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

It is unclear whether the Maine Department of Corrections, which is seeking a greater role in the oversight of Maine’s county jails, will seek to be involved in the investigation of Saturday’s breach. Spokesman Scott Fish did not return a phone message seeking comment.

 

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

sdolan@pressherald.com

Twitter: @scottddolan