When Maryland legislator Luke Clippinger heard that half of an elite unit tasked with maintaining order in state-run jails had been indicted on charges of excessive force, assault and conspiracy, he thought of a laundry list of other prison scandals. “It is outrageous that this continues,” the Baltimore Democrat said. “I want to learn more about how the lack of supervision of this independent group was allowed to happen. I mean, who was supposed to be overseeing this and fell down on the job” With the state repeatedly confronting unprofessional guards who break the law, he said, more questions must be asked about the recruitment, training, staffing and oversight failures, the Baltimore Sun reports. Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby’s indictments of 25 members of the Baltimore Central Regional Tactical Unit have led to questions over how to prevent misconduct in the sprawling corrections system, rather than prosecute it after the fact.
The latest charges relate to an alleged violent oppression of inmates and detainees by guards, rather than criminal coordination between guards and inmates to smuggle contraband in past scandals. Most stakeholders agreed that, to prevent such abuses, the goal must be to prevent bad actors from entering and flourishing in corrections facilities, instead of relying on law enforcement efforts to extract bad actors after they’ve committed crimes. Clippinger, a prosecutor, recalled a trip he led to state corrections facilities this summer. Guards told him and other lawmakers of long hours and forced overtime, of not being paid enough given the dangerous conditions they worked in. Such conditions “don’t give them permission to beat the crap out of people,” Clippinger said. Gov. Larry Hogan “has made cleaning up corruption in the correctional system a priority since day one” of his administration, said a spokesman.