01:32 - Source: WBAL
Maryland gov.: Shut down Baltimore jail immediately

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The facility has long been known for its culture of corruption

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered the building to be shuttered as soon as inmates and correctional workers could be transferred

Washington CNN —  

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday announced the closure of Baltimore City Jail, a men’s detention facility that has been plagued by scandals and corruption investigations for decades.

Calling it the worst prison in America, Hogan, a Republican, said the decision has been a long time coming and that inmates currently housed there will be transferred to other facilities, along with correctional workers.

“Inmates were literally running this prison,” Hogan said at a press conference outside the detention center. “Maryland taxpayers were unwittingly underwriting a massive criminal enterprise.”

The facility, which Hogan referred to as a “black eye” on the state, has long been known for its culture of corruption. A 2013 federal indictment charged 44 people, including 27 correctional officers, for operating a criminal organization within the jail through drug peddling, money laundering, and extortion.

The allegations included accounts of how one member of the Black Guerrilla Family gang, Tavon White, was able to operate his criminal enterprise from within the jail. Not only had White impregnated four of the guards who smuggled in contraband on his behalf, but one correction officer was so loyal to the inmate that she had “Tavon” tattooed on her wrist, according to court documents.

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The building, which predates the Civil War, has long been considered unsafe because of its crumbling structure and squalid living conditions. In 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union settled with Maryland state officials to ensure better medical and mental health care within the jail after allegations of neglect stemming from a 2003 lawsuit that outlined “a pervasive lack of medical and mental health care, as well as dangerous and unsanitary living conditions in the jail” dating back decades.

But another motion filed last month by the ACLU alleges that the changes agreed to in the 2009 settlement have not been implemented and that detainees are still endangered because of substandard living conditions, as well as inmates still being forced to wait days or weeks for health concerns to be addressed.

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“The fact is, this is a pretrial facility where people have not been convicted of a crime but are forced to live in inhumane conditions,” Hogan said.

Though Hogan was unsure when exactly the jail will cease to house inmates, he did instruct Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services Stephen Moyer on Thursday to shutter the building as soon as inmates and correctional workers could be transferred as it’s “dangerous not only for workers, but for inmates too.”