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Monday, April 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Baltimore Settles Class Action on Inmate Care

BALTIMORE (CN) - Settling a federal class action over abuses in its jail facilities, Baltimore agreed to better accommodate people with disabilities and adopt many other improvements.

The settlement filed Wednesday comes on the heels of Gov. Larry Hogan's decision in July to close the Men's Detention Center. A month later, that facility's 1,100 detainees made there way to other facilities.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander must still approve this week's agreement, and class members still have an opportunity to comment on it. The deal requires jail staff to track the medical records detainees and provide essential medications without interruption.

The Public Justice Center, the Law Offices of Elizabeth Alexander and the American Civil Liberties Union sought relief on behalf of detainees "in critical need of care" who the city forces to go without attention for weeks.

They filed in June to have Hollander reopen a 1994 case brought by detainee Jerome Duvall, claiming that the last settlement in 2009 failed to eliminate inhumane conditions at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

"We can't undo the damage the jail has done to so many, but we can celebrate today's settlement for its commitment to better conditions and for establishing independent monitors who will ensure progress," David Fathi, director of the ACLU's National Prison Project, said in a statement..

Alexander, the attorney, noted that Baltimore's jail facilities "have fallen into vermin-ridden disrepair."

Public Justice Center said upgrades from the new settlement include the establishment of "schedules for assessing, treating, and monitoring detainees' physical and mental health problems."

An independent monitor will oversee compliance.

"At last, the Baltimore City Detention Center will provide adequate, timely medical care to detainees instead of abandoning those with injuries and illnesses," Debra Gardner, legal director at the Public Justice Center, said in the press release. "After years of litigation, the jail will meet its constitutional and ethical responsibilities to those inside its walls."

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