A Baltimore grand jury has reported that the city jail is "dangerously understaffed" and is unsafe for both inmates and employees. Unfortunately, that kind of news is becoming old hat. Instead of producing decisive remedial actions, the festering crisis in correction systems across the country never seems to attract enough public concern to produce real reform.
Secretary Bishop Robinson of Maryland's Department of Public Safety and Corrections is fond of pointing out that corrections has been the neglected stepchild of the law enforcement system. When millions of federal dollars were pouring into police departments in the 1960s and '70s -- including scholarship programs to attract and train better, more professional officers -- nothing comparable was being done for prisons and the people who run them.
Consequently, while many police departments around the country saw substantial improvement in the caliber of cops on the beat, corrections facilities continued to rely on low-paid employees who had little education or training and virtually no respect from the outside world. No wonder so many prison systems have been virtually taken over by the federal courts.