Prisons are Not Racist

Earlier this week, the Maryland General Assembly’s Legislative Black Caucus implied that Governor Larry Hogan was racist for funding the legislature approved plan to build a new prison in Baltimore City to replace the closed detention center.

The theory was that Governor Hogan took funds that could be used for expensive capital projects at two historically black colleges and instead spent the money on a prison. This was stretched into a claim that the Governor cared more about imprisoning black people than educating them, and lost in the attacks was that the Governor’s plan would have saved $300 million from earlier proposals.

Creating a new prison doesn’t create crime. Instead, it creates jobs in a community that provides individuals with a legitimate income and keeps them from turning to crime. Claiming that the building of a prison in Baltimore City is racist itself is racist because the attack ensures the poverty of those who could have obtained those good paying jobs.

Poverty and the inability to find work is a greater factor in becoming a criminal than education, and funding new buildings at a local college does not do much to ensure more impoverished students are able to receive an education.

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If we honestly care about the plight of Baltimore City’s poor, who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic, then we should do whatever we can to ensure that there are more job opportunities offered to residents of the city. Jobs that provide a good salary with benefits and have few education requirements should be the number one priority of the Legislative Black Caucus.

The Governor has since withdrawn the funding for a new prison and has diverted those funds into education projects because a new prison was never his plan. However, the people of Baltimore City, including those who have lost their jobs from the closing of the detention center and who could have been hired at a new prison, are the ones to suffer.

We agree with Senate President Mike Miller’s response to the matter that “Everyone has a bad day.” However, it is obvious that the bad day was experienced by the Democratic Leadership in Annapolis who have lost all credibility in yet another failed attack motivated by blatant partisanship.

Once again, bad politics have cost Marylanders the jobs they need.

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