Md. Considers Releasing Inmates to Save Money

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — State legislators are considering cost-cutting ideas that include releasing enough inmates to close a prison in Maryland.
In addition to closing one facility, staff at other prisons could be cut to a minimum. It may not be feasible for the state to maintain the $700 million needed to support corrections operations. Rep. Michael Smigiel, R-MD, called the proposal “ill conceived.”
“You don’t start out with the precept of ‘how I can make society less safe?’” he said. “You start out with the precept of ‘how do I make society more safe?’”
The proposal was made during a House subcommittee budget decision hearing.
“We collect about 17 percent of the parole fees from folks,” said Delegate Mike McDermott, R-Wicomico and Worcester counties. “So there are a lot of ways from within the system itself that we can probably find savings.”
The plan requires the state Department of Corrections to propose three options for reducing the inmate population and provide examples from other states that may have already done this.
The proposal asks for specific steps to be taken and a timeline for each option. The department would have to identify necessary legislative changes needed to close a facility and determine the cost savings the closure would generate.
“If the task force or the study isn’t going to cost much money, I don’t think it does any harm,” said Delegate Luiz Simmons. “But I think maybe we are moving in the wrong direction.”