Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

March 12, 2014

Negative comments about NBCI unwarranted

“Old wardens never die, they just fade away.” This was my objective until Mr. Webb’s letter in the Cumberland Times-News on March 9 (Executive Director Wayne Webb of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services North Region: “Goal: Make NBCI most secure Md. maximum security prison).

I had the distinguished honor to have served as warden at Federal Correctional Institution, Western Correctional Institution and North Branch Correctional Institution with professional correctional practitioners that strived to be fair, consistent, and compassionate in the performance of their duties within a maximum security correctional institution.

Mr. Webb continues to make indirect disparaging comments about NBCI administration. My 27 years’ experience as a correctional administrator with media training discouraged writing editorials.

Editorials were a means to briefly state your case/rebuttal questionable comments, and mostly solicit approval from others for a cause and action.

Presenting general comments about a plan to transition NBCI back to operate as the state’s most secure maximum security prison lacks direction and a willingness to present the specifics of the plan.

In all probability, his “plan” will be very similar to the direction NBCI was moving towards to operate not only as a secure maximum security prison, but within a safe correctional environment for staff and inmates.

NBCI has been operating understaffed for years but now has been promised 49 new PINS in July 2014.

Suggesting that “What creates a safe institution is adherence to a standardized set of policies and procedures, which hold inmates, correctional staff, their supervisors, and the prison administration accountable – not the use of long-term lockdowns.”

NBCI was on a lockdown status for a few weeks; however, it had transitioned to a modified movement status. A lockdown/modified movement are reasonable correctional management control measures to ensure the situation (in this case multiple serious assaults on staff) is controlled, assessed, evaluated, and short/long term objectives are met.

Had Mr. Webb taken the time to discuss this with NBCI Administration, he would have had a better understanding of NBCI direction.

Mr. Webb stressed American Correctional Association (ACA) Accreditation as a means to meet the objective of a safe institution. He failed to note that Maryland DPSCS has an audit system that mirrors the standards of ACA.

It is the Maryland Commission on Correctional Standards (MCCS) which audits all state, county, local correctional entities.

I have been very supportive of ACA Accreditation in my many correctional positions at over 12 federal prisons/penitentiaries and WCI.

It should be noted that MCCS is budgeted yearly and ACA Accreditation costs are in excess of $10,000 per institution not including staff time away from security duties or as they call it an “unfunded mandate.”

Utilizing “standardized set of policies and procedures” is not the only means to a safe and secure correctional institution. The training of staff, including Administrators, and performance of their duties in a professional manner is also a key element.

DPSCS has a standardized set of policies and procedures; however, they are not enforced consistently throughout the DPSCS. As he has stated in the past, “do not put all your eggs in one basket”.

His continual negative comments about NBCI administration prior to Feb. 3, 2014, are unwarranted. As Edmund Burke so eloquently stated “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”

Bobby Shearin

Retired NBCI warden

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