Cumberland Times-News

December 11, 2013

Panel backs $533 million plan to rebuild outdated Baltimore jail complex

Brian Witte
Associated Press

— ANNAPOLIS — A panel of Maryland lawmakers on Wednesday recommended a plan to spend more than $533 million over 10 years to rebuild the old Baltimore City Detention Center, making it more secure and harder for prisoners to sneak in drugs, cellphones and other contraband.

The commission endorsed a plan already submitted by the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections to rebuild the detention center as part of a proposal to overhaul state correctional facilities in the aftermath of a scandal earlier this year that resulted in federal indictments against 44 people, including 27 corrections officers.

They are accused of participating in a contraband- and drug-smuggling scheme involving the gang known as the Black Guerilla Family from inside the Baltimore City Detention Center. Gang members distributed drugs to fellow detainees and used contraband cellphones to arrange sexual encounters, spread word about impending cell searches and conduct gang-related business with members on the street, according to the indictment.

The outdated design of the facilities makes it harder to maintain officer safety and reduce the flow of contraband, the report said.