The Old Line
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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hard Time

It's been a while since I blogged about the prison system in Maryland. Evidently, things are not looking up:

The Maryland prison system is so dangerous that even inmates placed in protective custody are frequently the victims of assaults and threats on their lives, a top prison official testified in court yesterday.

In a highly unusual acknowledgement of dysfunction in the state's prisons, the administrator in charge of security operations said vulnerable inmates -- especially jailhouse informants -- are routinely attacked even after officials move them to special cells for their protection.

"I'm not going to sit here and tell you that we've got everything under control," said James V. Peguese, assistant commissioner for the Division of Corrections. "Unfortunately, people die in prison so we don't have a perfect record."

This reminds me of a point Brad Plumer made recently: Part of the reason prisons in America are so dangerous is that prisoners are implicitly expected to be abusive to one another behind bars. Not that anyone really cares what happens to prisoners, even the non-violent offenders; but given that prison tends to make people more likely, not less, to commit crimes in the future, you would think there would be more concern about this situation.


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