Poor Prison Conditions “Put Lives At Risk”–Study Panel


Overcrowding, cruel conditions, and a lack of constructive activities for inmates fuel violence in prisons and threaten public safety because most inmates return to their homes ill-prepared for daily life, says a report being presented today to Congress, the Baltimore Sun reports. “Few conditions compromise safety more than idleness,” says the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, a nonpartisan group that has studied conditions inside correctional facilities for the past year. “But because lawmakers have reduced funding for programming, prisoners today are largely inactive and unproductive. Highly structured programs are proven to reduce misconduct in correctional facilities and also to lower recidivism rates after release.”

The report highlights issues that have emerged in Maryland as state officials struggle to control prison violence that records show has turned increasingly deadly in recent years. “It sort of validates what we’ve been saying,” said Frank C. Sizer Jr., the state’s prison chief. “You can’t continue to lock people up and not do anything with them and put them back into society with no tools to be able to cope.” The report is the product of a 20-member commission that held hearings around the nation and was staffed by the New York-based Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit group that researches criminal justice issues. It was co-chaired by former U.S. Attorney General Nicholas de B. Katzenbach and John Gibbons, former chief judge of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The report says there is far too much violence in prisons and cites “other serious problems that put lives at risk and cause immeasurable suffering.”

Link: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nationworld/bal-te.md.prisons08jun08,0,4076256.story?coll=bal-

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