Yet, if Gov. Schaefer had not implemented this policy change, my employer's medical plan would have covered costs, just as they paid for the prescription glasses I still wear 18 years later because neither Prison Health Services (PHS), nor Correctional Medical Services (CMS), has since competently provided serviceable prescription glasses.
The 134 lifers removed from work-release have all been incarcerated for 30-plus years, and among them I know lifers with cancer, congestive heart failure, heart bypasses, emphysema, diabetes, Graves disease, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and other expensive medical conditions.
In short, huge medical expenses resulted from policy changes removing lifers from work release, where we paid for room, board, transportation, and other incarceration costs - and income taxes and Social Security.
In my own case, Administrative Hearing Office Law Judge Denise Oaks Shaffer directed, on July 13, 2004, in case DPSC-IGO-003V-04-2249, that the DOC and CMS comply with the PHS doctor's existing eye-care orders issued prior to my transfer from MCIH. But this, too, was ignored and within weeks another retina detached, requiring another round of expensive medical and eye doctor visits, including four outside trips to a Salisbury eye clinic for more laser surgery.
Here's what the public fails to realize: 134 lifers on work release cost the state no money for their incarceration. But with Schaefer's change, we now have 134 lifers times 12 years equals 1,608 years times a minimum of $25,000 a year, for a minimum tab of $40 million to date to maintain this policy. (Secretary Mary Ann Saar was quoted in the Sun in 2002 as saying elderly prisoners cost $60,000 a year, meaning the tab for Schaefer's folly is now some $96 million to date.)
So long as taxpayers ignore Maryland's penal gulag, allowing exponential lifer growth (800 in 1980; some 3,000 today), exponential growth in prisoner medical costs will continue so long as politics precludes processing parole for the elderly and infirm.
Douglas Scott Arey
ECI 130196 6A-38B
On Cascade, enough is enough
To the editor:
There have been monthly, if not weekly, letters from Cascade - squeaky wheels and concerned comments. Commissioners and citizens outside our area are perhaps tired of the same-old same-old.
The now ongoing petition drive has so far attracted more than 600 citizens who are tired of these jabs at anything including new players. We cannot live in the past, though it certainly seems so, with the Army still being the big landlord. Are there any former bases that lingered this long on government rolls?
At one time I wanted to do a wall chart from 1998 to the present of all the base happenings, tactics and squabbles, both political and personal. Unfortunately, I don't have a wall long enough. On the positive side, the base entrances look lovely. I enjoy being able to once again ride around a beautiful base. This past winter, hundreds came to see a film about "The Ritchie Boys." No attendee complained about its not being shown in a state-of-the-art theater.
A community is the spirit of the people, whatever the purpose of the gathering or physical location. I retired here and decided to stay because of the stability of the community; those folks who have lived here the majority of their lives are not interested in keeping up with the Jones and other external fluff. Spirit makes the community and we are saying only that enough is enough.