Justice Department Forces Maryland to Fix Jail Woes

BALTIMORE — The state of Maryland has until April to develop a plan to address unsafe conditions at local jails and only four years to implement the plan before the U.S. Department of Justice pursues litigation.

An investigation launched by the Justice Department in 2000 found that conditions at the Baltimore city jail violate the constitutional rights of inmates, affecting medical and mental health care, staffing and training, security, treatment and conditions, education, and fire and environmental safety. In addition, poor health care and living conditions have been identified at the city detention center and the Central Booking and Intake Center.

New jails for women and juveniles should help fix the problem, according to state officials. Preliminary estimated costs for construction of the jails total $170 million — approximately $115 million for the women’s facility and $55 million for the juvenile facility.

The new buildings are in early planning stages and are not expected to be completed for several years.

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