A Maryland gubernatorial task force on prisons has drafted a report saying it opposes construction of a proposed 890-bed state penitentiary to ease severe prison overcrowding.
The task force, which is scheduled to present its final report to Gov. Harry R. Hughes Friday, said in the draft report that such construction -- which had been approved by Hughes's predecessors -- "is not an appropriate response" to overcrowding and a federal court order requiring that the situation be corrected, according to sources.
The finding concurs with the controversial position of the state's new corrections director Gordon Kamka, who has said he is "not convinced" that a new prison is needed.
Kamka instead has suggested that Maryland, which has the fifth highest incarceration rate in the nation, may need to jail fewer criminals rather than build more jails.
For the past three years, two governors and the legislature have agreed that a new $26 million prison must be built. The only controversies have centered on its location.
Hughes appointed the 14-member task force of corrections experts last month, and said he would not decide on a course of action until he received its report.
The task force has looked at a wide range of alternatives including increased use of highly supervised parole and probation and the construction of small community-based corrections facilities.