Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

December 11, 2013

Mixed bag

On balance, corrections chief’s record was positive

Gary Maynard, Maryland’s public safety and correctional services chief, is departing his post with a mixed performance record.

Maynard, who had extensive correctional administrative experience in Iowa, Oklahoma and South Carolina before being hired to run Maryland’s prisons in 2007, deserves credit for closing the dangerous Maryland House of Correction.

But he had his record blemished following this year’s federal indictment of 25 people including 13 correctional officers, in a contraband scandal at the Baltimore City Detention Center. Last month, the federal investigation produced conspiracy charges against 19 more people, including 14 current or former correctional officers.

From the outset, Maynard took responsibility for the Baltimore detention center problems and promised to do away with the corruption and lapses. He instituted a number of changes before his departure and moved his headquarters to the center to oversee reforms.

Maynard also was plagued by complaints from correctional officers about inadequate staffing that the union representing the officers contends creates dangerous conditions in state prisons.

But Maynard also should be remembered for his emphasis on putting inmates to work on projects that benefit the local community. Under his leadership, inmates planted more than a million trees to help with the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay.

On his frequent visits to Cumberland, Maynard always attempted to reach out to local government officials by offering inmate help with local projects. He expressed frustration at times that his offer rarely was taken up by local government bodies.

Maynard visited the offices of the Cumberland Times-News nearly 10 times during his tenure, always inviting reporters to ask “any questions” and discuss any concerns about local prison operations.

Maynard will join the Criminal Justice Institute, where he will be senior vice president. CJI is a private, nonprofit national firm that provides services to federal, state, county and municipal criminal justice agencies.

He still has much to offer from his extensive correctional administrative experience. We hope the positive programs he put into place in the Maryland penal system will continue.

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