Maryland is on track to spend $1 million to treat inmates who have been injured in prison violence this year, says the Baltimore Sun. The tab doesn’t include the cost borne by local governments of transporting inmates to hospitals and of prosecuting assailants. In the first six months of 2006, 257 assaults took place in state-run prisons and jails in which injuries suffered by prisoners were severe enough to warrant trips to the hospital. Costs to treat the inmates came to about $860,000. Other expenses: Correctional officers attacked on the job can draw as much as two-thirds of their pay for up to a year as “accident leave” if administrators approve. Some counties foot the bills for taking inmates by ambulance to area hospitals. County prosecutors spend tens of thousands of dollars making cases against prisoners for the violent crimes they commit behind bars.
This year has been especially bloody. Two correctional officers and three inmates have been killed; dozens have been seriously injured. The state’s corrections chief lost his job as a result, and the problems have led to greater legislative scrutiny of the prison system. Anne Arundel County prosecutor Frank Weathersbee said his office could keep a full-time prosecutor busy handling nothing but cases from a complex of state prisons in Jessup. Kimberly Haven of Justice Maryland, which advocates for prisoners and their families, said the state is paying the price for failing to fund rehabilitation programs known to reduce violence. “We’re not using our resources wisely, and we end up paying more in the long run,” she said. “I can only imagine what programs we could put together with that million dollars, instead of prosecuting people and patching them up.”