Reacting to concerns about a surge of violence in Maryland’s prisons, the administration of Gov. Robert Ehrlich is telling labor union officials it sees a need to better equip correctional officers but not to hire more staff. The state says officers’ failure to follow department policy, rather than insufficient staffing, has contributed to some recent inmate violence. Officials agree that correctional officers’ safety equipment — such as radios, protective vests and security cameras — must be upgraded and that they are moving to do that.
Ron Bailey of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 92 argued that recent stabbings and other violent incidents in the prison system are due in large part to staff reductions since Ehrlich took office. Corrections administrators say that their data show violence on the decline in prisons. Bailey said that is misleading because administrators have changed the way they categorize violent incidents.