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Md. prison panel urges focus on gangs, health care

HAGERSTOWN — A Maryland task force on prison violence is urging a systematic approach to reducing gang activity and improving mental health care among inmates.

The panel sent its report to Gov. Martin O’Malley Monday after 2½ years of work.

Three of the 13 recommendations deal with gang activity, including one urging correctional and law enforcement agencies to use common software for sharing information about gangs and gang members.

The report urges creation of new mental health assessment center that would develop individualized inmate treatment plans.

And it recommends making cell-phone smuggling in prisons a felony rather than a misdemeanor to discourage inmate use of cell phones.