Today, the House Republican Caucus issued this statement following the Joint Legislative Policy Committee Hearing on the Prison Scandal that was held on June 6, 2013:
“We found the Joint Legislative Policy Committee hearing both encouraging and frustrating. We were happy to hear long-suggested Republican policies echoed by the DPSCS leadership and District Attorneys as proactive solutions to the current crisis in our correctional system,” said Delegate Nic Kipke, House Minority Leader.
“It is frustrating that measures we have supported, such as tough penalties for possession and distribution of cell phones in prisons, are only now receiving serious consideration in the wake of a massive scandal. These are the same policies recommended by a legislative task force two years ago yet voted down by the Leadership in Annapolis,” added Delegate Kathy Szeliga, House Minority Whip.
“This is not a new problem, just one that’s been ignored for years,” commented Delegate Kipke after pointing out that there was an FBI indictment in 2009 where 24 individuals, including 4 correctional officers, were indicted for drug dealing and smuggling in illegal cell phones, among other crimes. “While we are glad to see the O’Malley Administration and Democratic leadership FINALLY taking action on this issue, we firmly believe that this scandal extends well beyond the Baltimore City Detention Center and more needs to be done to root out prison corruption state-wide.” Del. Kipke concluded.
The House Republican Caucus is pleased that two members, Del. John Cluster (Baltimore County) and Del. Michael Hough (Frederick County) have been appointed to the legislative task force that will be looking further into this issue. Both are members of Judiciary Committee and will be tremendous additions to this group based on their experience with this issue.
While both the Executive and Legislative task forces are meeting, the House Republican Caucus will be working on its own aggressive legislative package that will offer real solutions to this very serious issue, including Del. Cluster’s bill that would impose stiff penalties for illegal cell phone in prison.
Click here for the official copy of the statement.