- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 15, 2007

ANNAPOLIS — Senate Democrats yesterday proposed a task force on prison violence that would include more former inmates than prison guards.

The proposal to form a task force is being sponsored by Sen. Verna Jones, a Baltimore Democrat. Mrs. Jones said she proposed the task force because violence from the prison is spilling into the communities she represents.

The roughly 11-member task force would include a former male and female inmate, a prison guard, a union representative in a state prison, a toxicology analyst and representatives from the House, Senate, Attorney General’s Office and the governor’s Cabinet.

“Our prisons are a mess,” said Sen. Brian E. Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat and chairman of the committee that passed the proposal. “We need to do it differently.”

Senate Republicans are opposed to the composition of the task force.

“It would let the violence in prison get back out on the streets,” said Sen. Andrew P. Harris, Baltimore County Republican.

Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus, an Eastern Shore Republican, said he agrees that prison reform is needed, but he and other Republicans want more information from correctional officers.

“Prisoners are not the only ones in the prisons,” said Sen. Larry E. Haines, a Carroll County Republican.

The task force also would include members of prison-reform groups, including the Justice Policy Institute.

Prison violence has plagued the state recently.

Corrections Officer David McGuinn, 41, was stabbed to death by three inmates in a Jessup prison in July.

In January 2006, Corrections Officer Jeffery Alan Wroten, 44, was fatally shot by an inmate he was guarding at Washington County Hospital.

Gov. Martin O’Malley focused on prison violence Monday during a tour of the Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown where an officer died last year.

Mr. O’Malley proposed hiring 155 more correctional officers and building a new wing at the Hagerstown prison.

His pick to run state prisons, Gary D. Maynard, would sit on the task force.

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