Most state employees are paid modest salaries

May 26, 2011

I am writing in regards to the article you posted on salaries of state workers ("Coaches, doctors get top state pay" May 24).

The problem with this is I am a state employee who puts my life on the line each and every day that I go to work, and I do not feel as though my full name and date of hire should be posted. I work short staffed everyday and in some very rough conditions that no one else would want to do.

I am a correctional officer of 16 years in Jessup, and my job is to protect the public, the detainees, the employees and offenders housed behind the fences and walls that the average person has no knowledge of. My salary of $50,000 is hardly enough when you look at the type of work I do and the risk I take to do it. I am at risk of contracting AIDS, TB, head lice, MERSA, other childhood diseases as well, meningitis, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and melanoma and cancer.

I can also be stabbed with a homemade shank, needle, be raped, held hostage, have urine or other bodily fluids tossed on me and exposed to deadly diseases which can have an effect on my family and mentally on myself. I give up being home with my family on holidays to be at work while others are off because of us being on a 24/7 schedule. I work in any type of weather because I am essential, I do not get to be off weekends, or holidays like a banker or corporate employees. These are the sacrifices we make every day as state employees.

How many of you would give your lives to protect the public in these conditions? Now remember these inmates are not here for jaywalking, they are here for murder, rape, drug trafficking, arson and domestic violence. And how about the gangs that we have to face inside these walls, that threaten us each and every day. Look at Officer David McGuinn, who lost his life in the Maryland House of Corrections on July 6, 2006, but under that administration we were told there are no gangs in prison. How do you explain that? Did he make too much money? It cost him his life because he did his job. You can never pay any one of us too much money to risk our lives every day in the fields we work in — look at the person who was a state highway worker who lost his life on the highway while making it safe for others. We work in blizzards, floods, tornados, fires and much more. The staffing levels are bare minimum, but we still have to work to protect the detainees and give them the services they are required no matter what the level of staffing is.

Just sit back and look at the facts and ask yourself this, what would I do if there were no prisons, what would I do if there were no highway workers to fix the Bay Bridge so I can enjoy Ocean City, What would I do without the Department of Motor Vehicles and my tags? Think real hard about all the services you get from us state employees who make so many sacrifices for the citizens of Maryland and the time we are away from our families while you are home. No money can replace our time away.

I am very proud of the services I provide the state of Maryland and the citizens. But I do not bring home a salary that even compares with the ones in your article. The fact of the matter is that there are more than 80,000 state employees in Maryland, and most of them made what I make. We are regularly hit with pay cuts, furloughs, staffing reductions and unpaid mandatory overtime.

L. Blankenship, Baltimore

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