There are thousands of inmates behind bars in Maryland state prisons, but correctional officers across the state say they’re starting to feel like prisoners too due to what they claim is a shortage of officers.
“A lot of these guys are working 80 hours a week, some of them can barely keep their eyes open, they’re worn out they’re dragging,” described an anonymous source.
The source shared that there are over 2000 inmates, but usually less than 100 officers on shift each day. He said that because of this, they have some safety concerns.
“We do what we can, but …you’re only supplied with a radio and a small can of pepper spray and handcuffs,” they explained.
Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Stephen Moyer said in a statement that “no correctional facility is short staffed.”
The source responded to this claim with the following statement: “Well of course you’ve got the facility fully staffed but [the officers are] working overtime. They’re working past their 40 hours a week,” they said.
The source said that the plight of the officers has even caught the attention of inmates.
“These inmates know that we’re overworked. They make jokes that we must have mattresses lying around somewhere [because] we don’t even go home anymore,” they said.
Governor Larry Hogan is providing several incentives to bring in more officers, including a $5,000 “new hire” bonus, and a recently announced college loans assistance program.
But the officers say they are unmoved by this.
“We’re all saying it’s smoke and mirrors. It shows a good front, but we’re the ones keeping them behind these fences and that’s our lives on the line too,” they said.
Currently, state officials say they are initiating “Operation Hire” and holding more than 300 hiring events in anticipation of the shortage.