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Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, right, speaks during a news conference announcing the indictment of correctional officers on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Baltimore. Twenty-five correction officers, most of whom were taken into custody earlier in the day, are charged with using excessive force on detainees at state-operated Baltimore pretrial correctional facilities.
Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, right, speaks during a news conference announcing the indictment of correctional officers on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Baltimore. Twenty-five correction officers, most of whom were taken into custody earlier in the day, are charged with using excessive force on detainees at state-operated Baltimore pretrial correctional facilities. (Julio Cortez/AP)

The criminal justice system should be fair and equal. Unfortunately, far too often this is not the case. Last week we were reminded of this by the indictment of 25 Maryland correctional officers and staff accused of a series of criminal acts, including assault, in an effort to maintain their power in their own jails and prisons (“Indictments represent corrections department failures, even if Maryland leaders won’t admit it,” Dec. 4).

We know that race plays a significant role in the context of the justice system — in Maryland and across the country. Marylanders deserve a justice system administered fairly and without bias; unfortunately, current practice does not deliver on that goal. We don’t think it’s coincidence that Maryland’s prisons have been rife with corruption among its correctional officers and that Maryland is the worst state in the nation when it comes to incarcerating people who are African American — with over 70% of the incarcerated population fitting that description compared to an average of 32% nationally.

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From Freddie Gray to the corrupt Gun Trace Task Force to these indictments of corrections officers, it’s easy to see how these patterns play out in a justice system that embodies our country’s horrific history on race. This is a racial justice crisis that Maryland’s leaders must tackle head on.

Marc Schindler, Washington, D.C.

The writer is executive director of the Justice Policy Institute.

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