ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan today announced that the notorious Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC) – Men’s Detention Center will close immediately, bringing to an end the facility’s long history of corruption, appalling conditions, and waste of tax dollars. The closure of the Men’s Detention Center will dramatically improve staff, detainee, and public safety conditions, while also saving Maryland taxpayers millions of dollars per year.
“For years, Maryland taxpayers were unwittingly underwriting a vast criminal enterprise run by gang members and corrupt public servants,” said Governor Hogan. “Ignoring it was irresponsible, and one of the biggest failures in leadership in Maryland history. That is why today, I have instructed Secretary Moyer to immediately shut down the Men’s Baltimore Detention Center.”
The Baltimore City Detention Center made national and international headlines in 2013 when it was revealed that a number of employees at the state-run facility had allegedly collaborated with a Baltimore jail gang, the Black Guerrilla Family, to smuggle drugs, cellphones, and other banned items into the jail. It was also discovered that gang members were using contraband and intimidation to orchestrate crimes inside and outside jail walls. More than 40 people were indicted, and last February, five were convicted in this massive jailhouse corruption scheme.
Stephen T. Moyer, secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS), praised his 11,000 employees, and called closing BCDC the fulfillment of a promise. “I have visited many of our correctional facilities and parole and probation offices in my six months here,” he said, “and I have promised my staff that my top priority is to improve the safety of my employees and the detainees and inmates they supervise. This move is a critical part of keeping that promise.”
BCDC, a patchwork maze of a dozen buildings, dates to the 1850s and has been added onto many times over the years, including 11 renovations. Repairs in the past five years have cost more than $10 million and several housing areas have been closed due to significant structural issues and chronic plumbing problems that have rendered 185 beds unusable. The facility’s age far pre-dates modern penal facility standards and best practices that make its blind corners, dark corridors, and other hazardous conditions extremely dangerous.
The case involving the Black Guerilla Family gang and numerous employees has served to spotlight BCDC’s physical condition and severe management issues. New management and numerous security improvements have not been sufficient in overcoming the fundamental challenges associated with the facility’s age and poor infrastructure.
The governor has directed Secretary Moyer to close the detention center immediately, with approximately 750 male detainees being transferred to other facilities in the region. This transition will not negatively impact detainees’ access to legal visits, and will give them a safer environment to await trial and court hearings.
In addition, DPSCS has created a customer service phone line staffed by employees to help family members of detainees locate and contact their loved ones once they have been moved to other facilities. Those numbers are as follows: 410-545-8120, 410-545-8121, 410-545-8128, and 410-545-8129.
BCDC’s 772 employees impacted by the closure will be transferred to other nearby facilities in Maryland, or to other parts of the Baltimore City pretrial complex which are not affected by the closure of BCDC. The BCDC women’s facility and other separate pre-trial buildings nearby will not be affected.