Fewer Books for Maryland Inmates
Research shows that education plays a major role in reducing recidivism rates. Whether through the GED programs being offered in prisons or the presence of libraries, access to education is an important element of self-development for individuals, including prison inmates.
In an effort to keep prisons “safe” and to decrease drug smuggling, however, correctional department officials in Maryland have deemed it necessary to limit inmates’ access to books. When asked how often drugs were smuggled into Maryland prisons via books, J. Michael Zeigler, a Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services deputy secretary, was unable to report that information. This form of inmate control is nothing new and was implemented recently in New York.
“Books are important for everyone, but access to books is crucial for prisoners. Inmates have no or very limited access to the internet, so reading is a way to stay connected to society, if not to just pass time. Policies on book access for prisoners are widely divergent, and sometimes bafflingly inconsistent, across state, federal, and private prisons.” (Quartz Media)
Prisons have the opportunity to use tax dollars to benefit society as a whole, but instead they want to waste money by decreasing educational opportunities, which will send newly released individuals back to jail (because they’ve gained no other skills) only to start the cycle over again. Currently, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is examining the legal remedies needed to stop this action.
As mentioned in Proverbs 16:27, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” and that same saying can be applied to one’s mind.
Describing a 2014 RAND study on correctional education, Lois Davis, a senior policy researcher and co-author of the comprehensive report, said, “it really, for the first time, dispelled the myths about whether or not education helps inmates when they get out. Education is, by far, such a clear winner.”