State Commission Makes Recommendations on Baltimore City Jail, Correctional Officer Discipline

A December 10 Baltimore Sun article  reports on the recommendations of a state commission charged with addressing correctional officer oversight and discipline issues at the state-run Baltimore jail and at other correctional facilities throughout the state.  One of the key recommendations of the commission is to tear down the city jail, which dates from the Civil War era and rebuild a new facility at an estimated cost of $500 million.

The panel of state senators and delegates, convened in the wake of an FBI investigation into widespread smuggling and corruption at the jail, said in a report that the facility’s outdated design makes it difficult to manage and allows contraband to flow unchecked.

“The best resolution to these issues is the demolition and replacement of the old, inadequate structures,” they concluded.

The document, which the lawmakers approved Wednesday, also includes plans to make it easier to suspend officers who are suspected of smuggling, to standardize security procedures and expand employee training.  …

But a spokesman for Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said officials needed to look beyond rebuilding to solve corruption and tackle crime.

“The mayor believes if we are going to commit substantial dollars to capital projects such as jails and prisons, we should also look at other things we are doing to prevent crime and the short and long-term impacts that will have on incarceration,” spokesman Kevin Harris said.

A December 10 Washington Post story reports on some of the task force’s other recommendations:

The commission, comprised of a dozen delegates and senators, is scheduled to meet for the final time on Wednesday before forwarding its recommendations to the full General Assembly for consideration in January.

Other proposals include tougher penalties for cell phone smuggling, subjecting all new correctional officers to polygraph tests and relocating some high-risk offenders from the Baltimore jail to longer-term state correctional facilities.  …
The reports says the corrections department should consider putting full-body scanners at each correctional facility and develop a uniform screening policy for all those entering state-run facilities.

 

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