Corrections department reorganization contributed to jail troubles

June 11, 2013

As a former employee of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, I concur with your June 7th editorial "Keep up the scrutiny" with one exception: Secretary Gary Maynard's relocation of his office to BGF Central, otherwise known as the Baltimore City Detention Center, is a stunt to demonstrate some action, any action, long after the horse has left the barn, or more appropriately, four impregnations accomplished.

One apparently unasked question: where did all these liaisons between inmate Tavon White and the willing correctional officers take place without anyone in leadership noticing: in his cell, the bathroom, maybe an office with soft lighting and music? The real question noted from Del. Dereck Davis about why the agency Secretary Maynard heads did not take corrective action when allegations were first reported may have something to do with the unneeded and unwanted reorganization of the department over the past two years, which quickly became, at least in the judgment of many of the rank and file, a train wreck.

According to his resume, the secretary managed correctional agencies in several other states before Gov. Martin O'Malley brought him to Maryland, but he had never managed a probation agency. Most states separate correctional agencies and parole, which are customarily administered by correctional officials and parole commissions, from probation; in Maryland by contrast parole officers are also probation officers and in fact the vast majority of their caseloads are probationers, subject to the jurisdiction of hundreds of judges in every part of the state. Why it then made sense to merge the former Division of Parole and Probation into an enlarged correctional agency, under complex and overlapping chains of command, with no more apparent justification than that the reorganization would create "seamless systems" and "eliminate vertical silos which are barriers to communication" is anybody's guess. Any thought of a streamlined administrative structure was quickly dashed by an even more top-heavy and bloated chain of command, all of which has been taking place while BGF has been running the Baltimore City Detention Center.

As a retired 40-plus-year supervisor with the former Division of Parole and Probation, I grieve for my former loyal and conscientious colleagues who cannot avoid being tainted by this sordid mess, which should be a profound embarrassment to department leadership at every level. Perhaps the secretary needs to re-read his own mission and vision statements, which read in part: "We will be known for our belief in the value of the human being, and the way we protect those individuals, whether they are members of the public, our own employees, those we are obligated to keep safe and in custody, or victims of crime." The

Maryland DPSCS is now both known and ridiculed nationally; by his failure to relieve Mr. Maynard, the governor too has failed the test of leadership, and as an ambitious politician has apparently failed to recognize his "Willie Horton" moment.

Richard E. Wachter, Baltimore

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