www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/readersrespond/bs-ed-jail-phones-20130517,0,2629620.story

baltimoresun.com

Public isn't getting the full story about phones in Md. jails and prisons

7:30 AM EDT, May 17, 2013

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I was volunteer and then staff chaplain at the Baltimore City Detention Center. I was terminated 2011, four months short of 16 years. The commissioner saw an inmate using the phone in my office as I was listening. This has always been a major element of my job description. Other support staff that interact with inmates do the same. One said to me he thought providing phone access was part of my job. The phones on the sections need cumbersome complex prior arrangements for payment and cannot call many locations needed. Officers send inmates to me so they can use the phone. Nearly all are to call loved ones.

The news coverage on the current situation has been so sanitized, it presents a false picture. Well documented and fully known to state and federal officials has been the extensive contraband trade for many years. The current stories are small change to the reality tens of thousands of inmates and thousands of staff regularly experience. I am very impressed by many excellent men and women staff and inmates I have known there. They do very well under difficult conditions.

Stephen H. Funck