Advertisement

State committed to safe corrections environment

June 25, 2005|by Mary Ann Saar

I am writing in response to The Herald Mail's editorial of June 14, entitled, "Delegation must push DOC for some answers." I will not respond directly to any charges leveled by retiring Warden Joseph Sacchet. He spent 30 years performing public service to the citizens of Maryland and we wish him well in his retirement.

Your assertion that the Maryland Division of Correction "is in turmoil," is simply without merit. Under this administration, we have embarked on new initiatives to help us work more efficiently and maximize our resources to enhance public safety. These all are changes for the better. However, for most people, change is not easy.

As we persist in our efforts to develop Maryland's public safety system into one of the best in the nation, we also continue to foster meaningful dialogue between management and employees. I believe we are doing a good job in communicating with our employees and encouraging input from all quarters of my Department. On a related issue, I, along with members of my executive staff, have met with elected officials in Western Maryland and other parts of the state on many issues important to this department and its employees. The dialogue has been fruitful, and the exchange of information, on both sides, has been helpful. We look forward to continuing the dialogue on how best to enhance public safety in Maryland.

Advertisement

I, along with my staff, am deeply committed to public safety in all of its aspects. The department has many challenges to address and the issue of safety for correctional officers, inmates and detainees is paramount. Even during tough budget times, the administration has put considerable resources into purchasing new safety equipment such as model radios, ballistic vests, surveillance and communications devices. We believe that the $1.15 million spent on this equipment is a worthwhile investment because it helps keep our officers safe and helps them do their jobs.

We also support the expansion of training programs to reduce idle time for inmates to further promote order within our facilities. State Use Industries, the prison industry arm of the Division of Correction, maintains its largest plants in the Hagerstown region. Plans are under way to expand the scope and number of inmates employed over the next few years. Engaging inmates in these types of constructive activities helps foster an orderly atmosphere and, by extension, keeps our officers safe.

I strongly believe that the department's newly adopted mission, "To protect the public, to protect its employees, and to protect the detainees and offenders under its supervision," aptly describes this administration's commitment to public safety. We will persevere in lowering Maryland's recidivism rate by focusing on control and custody as well as treatment and rehabilitation.

Mary Ann Saar is secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

(Editor's note: The editorial did not say that the DOC is in turmoil, but quoted Del. John Donoghue, D-Washington, who did say that.)

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|