Prisoners in the Anne Arundel County jail should not lounge in bed watching television all day but should "hit the deck" on schedule each morning and set about worthwhile activities, a county grand jury has recommended.
But jail officials said they doubted that anything will change. "There's very little you can do," said Francis J. (Zeke) Zylwitis, the county's criminal justice coordinator.
"If you walk through any detention center you will find people who are just going to lie there."
The grand jury's investigating committee was surprised to find inmates still in bed, sleeping or watching television, when it toured the jail at 11:30 a.m. one day in April.
Jail officials told the committee members that the prisoners had probably stayed up watching the late show the night before, and did not feel like getting up in the morning, according to the grand jury report released this week.
Work should be found "or even manufactured" in such instances, the jurors said in their report. Daily work or exercise should be mandatory, the report said.
Jail officials said there are many voluntary activities for inmates, including sewing and art classes, Bible study and high school and college courses, and jobs for about 50 persons inside the jail. Another 50 are on work-release programs.
Zylwitis said the law prohibits jail officials from requiring work of inmates awaiting trial, who account for about half the normal jail population of 230.
Some of the others, he added, cannot be allowed to work because they are security risks or facing disciplinary action.
Carolyn Towle, a spokeswoman for the Prince George's County Detention Center, said prisoners are not forced to get out of bed, although most do. Those who lounge in bed, she noted, miss breakfast. John White, director of the Montgomery County Detention Center said he requires inmates there to be dressed and have their beds made by 8 a.m.
"Then they may lay on top of the bed, dressed and with the bed made, if they care to," he said.
County grand juries throughout Maryland are required to make regular reports on conditions at local detention centers.
The Anne Arundel County report this week generally praised conditions at the county jail, near the Annapolis Mall. However, it also criticized what appeared to be dirty laundry and conditions in one of the two women's dormitories.
Zylwitis said work should begin soon on a new women's dormitory. The bed sheets cited by the grand jurors, he said, were not dirty, but a dull grayish institutional color.