Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, which is a nonprofit justice reform group, spoke with Reuters in a telephone interview regarding the serious issues this latest case raises.

“With a record number of people in prison, a record number of employees, the possibilities of people becoming tempted to engage in this type of activity are quite widespread. “

Maryland’s public safety and corrections secretary, Stephen Moyer, stated that the indictments unsealed on Wednesday by the federal grand jury, are a part of a “long-running battle against corruption.”

As a means to weed out the corrupt, the state has imposed polygraph testing of all guards as a means to discern which guards are qualified. It caused a 32 percent spike in prison-related corruption cases since 2013, also discovered with help of dogs trained to sniff out contraband and cell phones.

“You’ve got to bring the full power of, in this case, federal law to ensure that when anybody else starts to ‘flip’ that they had better think twice, because we’re going to be there to get them,” Moyer said, using a slang term for going over to an enemy’s side.

The indictments that were unsealed this week charged 18 corrections officers, 35 inmates, and 27 outsiders with running a smuggling operation inside the medium-security Eastern Correctional Institution in Maryland. The publication notes the details regarding the case.

“Relying partly on wiretap evidence, prosecutors charged the guards with bringing in narcotics, cell phones, pornographic DVDs and tobacco in exchange for money and sex with inmates. One guard is accused of arranging for prisoners to attack an inmate suspected of being an informant.”

The case has been referred to as not unique by David Fathi, director of American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project. Just last month, two guards in Tennessee were charged with having sex with inmates, as one recent example. In addition, the FBI uncovered corruption in February at nine Georgia prisons and dozens of officers were arrested in a sting.

“The scale in Maryland might be unusual, but the conduct is not,” Fathi said in a telephone interview.

Prisons have become desperate to hire new guards and officers, and the corruption causes questions to be raised about vetting procedures when hiring new officers.

Although there has been a slight drop in the number of inmates in the U.S. prison system, the Justice Department shares numbers that U.S. prisons held approximately 1.6 million inmates at the end of 2014, which is up almost 12 percent since 2000. In addition to the job as a prison guard being dangerous and low-paying, officers are also only given 12 weeks of training. When compared to the two years guards in German prisons receive, it seems changes in the corrections hiring and training system needs to be made within the United States.

Fathi states that this problem is entirely fixable, saying “You get what you pay for.” The average starting pay for a corrections officer is $38,000, whereas a state trooper will earn $46,000 upon graduation.

Reuters shares statistics about the prison system and the ratio of inmate to officer.

“Maryland’s prisons have about 21,000 inmates and 7,000 correctional officers, with about 700 jobs vacant, said Patrick Moran, head of the union that represents prison workers. That is an inmate/officer ratio of 3 to 1. A 2010 survey by the American Association of State Correctional Administrators of federal prisons and 28 states showed an average inmate/officer ratio of 3 to 2. The ratio of inmates to officers and supervisors was 5 to 1.”

[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]