Lawsuit Exposes Alleged Racist Gang ’40 West’ Among Maryland Prison Guards
Prison guards in Maryland have filed a lawsuit alleging there is a gang of white prison guards operating in one of the state’s correctional facilities. According to The Daily Record, correctional officers at the Maryland Correctional Training Facility in Hagerstown, MD, say that Black and immigrant correctional officers are routinely subjected to racial slurs and have been passed over for promotions or overtime shifts because of the actions of the “40 West” gang.
In their complaint, the guards allege that the group has created a culture of racism within the facility, and it also alleges both RICO charges and discrimination charges due to the coordinated nature of attacks from white correctional officers. The suit also alleges that Black and other people of color were disciplined over minor infractions, while the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services ignored white officers’ misconduct.
Edith Thomas, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, wrote in the suit, “Upon information and belief, a group of Caucasian COs organized to engage in illegal behavior and to take administrative control of MCTC by creating a race-based gang called ’40 West,’ ’40 West boys,’ and/or ’40 West gang’ decades prior to the present.”
The plaintiffs allege that they have been told to “Go back to your country,” that “We don’t want Blacks here,” and that monkey noises were simulated over the facility’s intercom system. The suit also states that members of the alleged gang include high-ranking members of the MCTC, as well as the use of Masonic imagery to identify other members. The plaintiffs also claim that at least one member of the gang has a swastika tattoo, a well-known symbol of many Neo-Nazi groups. The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services e-mailed a statement to The Daily Record, saying that they are “aware of the complaints alleged in this suit and is investigating the serious claims. The Department cannot comment further on pending litigation at this time.”
The suit was filed in July 2023 in Baltimore City Circuit Court but was recently escalated to a federal court during the week of Oct 9.