Gov. Larry Hogan is shuttering the Baltimore City Detention Center’s men’s jail, effective immediately. Over the coming days, about 750 male inmates housed at the jail will be moved.
“Given the space that we have it makes no sense to keep this deplorable facility open,” Hogan said at a Thursday afternoon press conference. “Frankly, I can’t believe this action didn’t happen years ago.”
The men’s detention center building dates to before the Civil War, and is widely known to be troubled. During the press conference, the governor and corrections secretary Stephen Moyer described the building as “obsolete,” “unsafe,” “an embarrassment to the state.”
Over the last five years, Hogan said the state has spent more than $10 million on repairs. About 185 beds have also been rendered unusable because of structural and plumbing issues. The building will likely be torn down, and there are no current plans to replace it.
The men’s jail was the scene of one of Baltimore’s most infamous corruption sagas of the last few years. In 2013, the FBI handed down numerous indictments against corrections officers and the Black Guerilla Family gang. The officers allowed contraband to flow into the jail unchecked. Male gang members and female officers also carried on sexual relationships that resulted in pregnancies, the feds said at the time. Gang leader Tavon White fathered five children.
Moyer, who presented Hogan with a key to the jail in gratitude for shutting the building down, said inmates would be moved to other facilities in Baltimore City. He said he couldn’t announce where or when the inmates moved for security reasons. Other facilities in the area include the Baltimore City Correctional Center on Greenmount Ave. and the Chesapeake Detention Center, as well as central booking.
About 770 employees will be affected by the closure, and will be transferred to other facilities, Hogan said, adding, “No one will lose their jobs.”
The Maryland General Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, had their own plan to replace the aging jail facility. But Hogan, a Republican, said he didn’t even read a report that laid out that decade-long roadmap, and acknowledged that he didn’t consult legislators prior to his decision.
“The General Assembly decided it was going to take 10 years,” Hogan said. “We think we can do it in a couple of weeks.”
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