Gov. Martin O'Malley called the indictments of 25 inmates and correctional officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center a "positive development" in the fight to dismantle violent gangs in state prisons. (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun video)

While taking responsibility for what he acknowledged was a "mess," Maynard has said he has no intention of resigning.

Rosenstein said the task force of state, federal and local authorities began its activities about February 2011, shortly after O'Malley began his second term. He said the results of the investigation came as no surprise to its members.

"Everybody in the task force anticipated it would result in the prosecution of a significant number of correctional officers," Rosenstein said.

But if the early national media coverage becomes the common wisdom, the detention center problems could strike a blow at O'Malley's image. As Baltimore's mayor and Maryland's governor he has portrayed himself as a hands-on, data-driven manager and a progressive who is nonetheless tough on crime.

Less than two months into his administration in 2007, he made a widely praised decision to suddenly close down the House of Correction, an infamously dangerous and outmoded prison in Jessup.

O'Malley noted Tuesday that initiative was managed by Maynard.

"Secretary Maynard is one of the best public safety secretaries in the entire nation," O'Malley said.

Federal law enforcement officials have targeted the Black Guerrilla Family's operations inside Maryland prisons in the past. In an investigation that concluded in 2009, they uncovered a scheme in which gang members used corrections employees to smuggle heroin into other corrections facilities.

Donald Norris, professor of public policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said the ultimate political impact of the prison issue depends on how O'Malley handles it going forward.

"It could tarnish O'Malley. It could also rebound in his favor," Norris said. "It's a major problem that has to be fixed."

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