Baltimore jail inmate Steven Gabriel says he was stabbed in 2011 when a corrections officer opened his cell door. In a lawsuit, Gabriel says officers suppressed inmates’ complaints of mistreatment, the Baltimore Sun reports. The allegations were made before 13 corrections officers were indicted on federal charges. accused of working with a dozen gang-affiliated inmates and street associates to peddle drugs and launder money in the jail. Civil liberties advocates say cases like Gabriel’s highlight the inadequacy of the inmate grievance process, an issue historically ignored and being de-emphasized as officials scramble to solve jail problems.
Grievances should be a valuable tool for uncovering corruption, experts say. Grievances at the jail outlined problems cited in the federal indictments, leading some to wonder if officials missed an early opportunity to address alleged corruption. “Depending on what the agency puts into the process, it can be good, it can be less than perfect, or it can be really, really bad,” said Arnett Gaston, a retired criminologist at the University of Maryland and former corrections official. David Rocah of the American Civil Liberties Union calls the process “a complete joke and fiasco.” State officials disagree.