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Md. Governor Orders Closure Of 'Deplorable' Baltimore City Jail

The Baltimore City Detention Center, seen here in 2013, was found to be riddled with corruption, according to a federal probe.
Lloyd Fox
MCT /Landov
The Baltimore City Detention Center, seen here in 2013, was found to be riddled with corruption, according to a federal probe.

Gov. Larry Hogan says he has ordered the immediate closure of the Baltimore City Detention Center, which a federal probe revealed in 2013 as being riddled with corruption, from smuggling to sex between inmates and guards.

Update at 3:15 p.m. ET: Inmates Were Running Jail, Hogan Says

Saying that the Baltimore facility is the only city prison in the entire country that's run by a state government, Hogan says it is time for a change.

"For years, the Black Guerilla gang maintained a stronghold over this facility," the governor said. He added, "Inmates were literally running this prison."

Hogan said that jail employees either stood by or enabled the criminal enterprise, which he said ranks as "one of the biggest failures in leadership in the history of Maryland."

Calling the jail a disgrace, Hogan said the idea that the dozens of criminal indictments related to the jail were a kind of victory was "phony political spin on a prison culture created by an utter failure" of leadership.

Hogan said the "deplorable facility" will be shut down immediately, adding that he can't understand why it has taken so long to close the expensive jail. The jail's inmates will be transferred to other facilities, he said.

David Fathi, who directs the ACLU's National Prison Project, says, "We are relieved that Baltimore detainees will no longer be forced to live in the Men's Detention Center, a building that should have been condemned decades ago."

Fathi added that "dangerous physical conditions and shockingly deficient medical and mental health care" exist in many jail facilities that remain open.

Our original post continues:

The investigation that was unveiled in the spring of 2013 resulted in the indictment of "25 people — including 13 women working as corrections officers" — on racketeering and drug charges, as the Two-Way reported. In total, 44 defendants faced charges in the case.

"The Civil War era jail was taken over by the state in 1991," The Baltimore Sun reports, adding that the jail " — which has 1,092 male inmates, including 145 awaiting trial — is part of a larger complex of corrections facilities just east of downtown Baltimore."

In addition to running a lucrative smuggling operation that centered on cellphones, drugs and other contraband, federal prosecutors said that "one of the prisoners, a gang leader named Tavon White, fathered children with four female corrections officers," as NPR's Scott Simon said in 2013. "Two of them even have his name tattooed on their bodies."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.