Public safety director talks about security improvements

December 14, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS |

HAGERSTOWN — Gary D. Maynard, the secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, met with Washington County Commissioners Tuesday to inform them about security improvements, community projects and other initiatives within the state prison system.

Serious assaults on corrections staff by inmates dropped 50 percent over four years, from 20 in fiscal 2007 to 10 in fiscal 2010, Maynard said. In the same time period, serious inmate-on-inmate assaults dropped 35 percent, from 271 to 177, he said.

Maynard attributed the drop to better security and less contraband. The department has invested $1.1 million in new and upgraded entrance-scanning equipment such as Body Orifice Security Scanner chairs and X-ray scanners, he said.

With the help of an intelligence analyst and gang unit, the state Division of Correction knows more about the gang affiliations of inmates, and cell-phone sniffing dogs are helping cut down on the banned cell phones gang members use to communicate, Maynard said.

Another safety improvement was the introduction in 2009 of an improved escape-notification system that allows citizens to sign up for alerts by phone, text or e-mail, he said.

Maynard also discussed programs aimed at preparing inmates for successful, crime-free lives after release, including drug treatment, education, work skills and help obtaining Social Security cards, birth certificates and MVA ID cards.

Some of the community projects inmates have participated in have included Habitat for Humanity, tree-planting at Antietam National Battlefield to re-establish a forest that existed at the time of the battle and constructing cages for use in restoring the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population, Maynard said.

He repeated an offer he said he has made all over the state: “You just tell me, in Washington County, the place that you’re embarrassed to drive by,” and the department will provide inmates to clean it up, Maynard said.

Maynard said such projects give inmates an opportunity to pay something back, but the aim is not to take away jobs that might otherwise go to citizens.

“What we want to do are the jobs that nobody else wants to do, and that you don’t have the funding to do, anyway,” he said.

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