Marylanders are wasting a lot of money on prisons and prisoners. That's the conclusion state officials and taxpayers can draw from recent reports detailing some of the costs of prison violence and the lack of adequate drug treatment. One answer is to redirect some of the spending, with the potential benefit of reduced costs in the long run.
Last week, The Sun reported that the cost of violence in Maryland prisons and jails is spiraling toward $1 million this year, reflecting injuries in at least 257 inmate assaults that were severe enough to require hospital treatment. This year's increased violence has resulted in the deaths of two correctional officers and three inmates and has coincided with staffing reductions and cuts in overtime. State officials and lawmakers need to beef up prison staff levels, and they also need to keep prisoners busy with programs and activities that will enhance their educational and employment skills.