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Culture of violence pervades prisons

Following is a letter to the editor co-authored by PJC Attorney Sally Dworak-Fisher on the culture of violence in Maryland prisons.

Letters to the Editor, Baltimore Sun 

December 26, 2007

Culture of violence pervades prisons

The Sun's editorial "Mishandling evidence" (Dec. 20) sheds light on an area of significant need and concern - the need to end prison violence and change the culture that allows it to flourish.

The end to prison violence will occur only with a commitment from the state - a commitment that was made on paper during the 2007 legislative session.

Legislators voted to convene a Prison Violence Task Force charged with looking at this issue and submitting a preliminary report by Dec. 31.

This task force has not convened its first meeting, and as a result, the deadline will come and go while the conditions that motivated the planned report remain unabated.

While the case that prompted recent articles by Greg Garland (e.g., "Officer left prison with knife sought in fatal stabbing, records show," Dec. 19) and The Sun's editorial are tragic, the problems they expose are not surprising given the lack of commitment to the issue.

Until the state makes a sincere effort to look at and address the violence and conditions of confinement that exist behind prison walls, we will continue to endure the impact of a culture of violence and anger for which the community will pay a price in the long run.

Kimberly Haven
Sally Dworak-Fisher

Baltimore The writers are, respectively, the executive director of Justice Maryland and an attorney for the Public Justice Center.

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