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Salisbury and Cambridge Among Highest for Incarceration Rates

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SALISBURY, Md.– A new report released by the Justice Policy Institute ranks Cambridge and Salisbury as having the third and fourth highest incarceration rates for prisons in the state.

The data comes from a 2010 U.S. Census. In that year, Cambridge had 924.9 people per 100,000. Salisbury, according to the data, had 870.1 people per 100,000. Baltimore and Hagerstown are the only communities with higher rates.

Wicomico County State's Attorney Matt Maciarello says the numbers may be high because of aggressive law enforcement and prosecution efforts on violent and repeat offenders. “We look at every individual; every individual act and then their background. And then we make decisions from there. But those people that are repeat violent offenders or repeat drug dealers that are carrying firearms in our city, peddling heroin, they're going to jail," Maciarello says.

Dorchester County State's Attorney William Jones echoes Maciarello. He says he is surprised by the numbers but believes the high numbers speak to the community's intolerance for criminal activity. “"What those numbers tell me, is that in Dorchester County, for example, the reflection of our community is that we don't tolerate some things that are perhaps tolerated by other people or other places," says Jones.

But while county officials tout high numbers as a job well-done, others feel those numbers are too high and crime is still a problem. Speaking about Salisbury, former prisoner Michael Dashields says crime is still bad. "To me, I say it's still the same; it isn't better because lot of people are doing things wrong because inflation's going up. So there's a lot of people losing jobs and just trying to support themselves,” Dashields says.

Jones and Maciarello say while it is good to look at numbers, it's important for law enforcement and prosecutors to continue doing their jobs case by case and not allow numbers to change who they arrest and prosecute.

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