FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2016
Debra Gardner, Public Justice Center, 410-625-9409, ext. 228, Email
Alexandra Ringe, 212-549-2582, Email
BALTIMORE – U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander today approved the settlement agreement in Duvall v. Hogan, the class-action suit on behalf of detainees in the Baltimore City Detention Center. The settlement between the state of Maryland and the Public Justice Center, the Law Offices of Elizabeth Alexander, and the American Civil Liberties Union stipulates an overhaul of the jail’s health care system and major improvements to the facilities, including accommodations for people with disabilities. To ensure compliance with the settlement, the parties agreed that the jail’s progress will be assessed by independent monitors.
In July 2015, less than two months after the lawsuit was reopened, Maryland governor Larry Hogan announced the closure of the Men’s Detention Center, which resolved claims concerning the crumbling and dangerous infrastructure in the oldest part of the jail. Plans have also been announced to close the Women’s Detention Center and other older parts of the facility by the end of this year. In addition to addressing the health care system, the settlement will require the state to repair and maintain those buildings in the jail complex that remain open.
“We are thrilled that the court approved this settlement, and the long-overdue work on improving the Baltimore jail’s health care system can begin,” said Debra Gardner, legal director at the Public Justice Center. “Detainees will finally be able to count on the jail to provide adequate, timely medical care instead of letting those with injuries and illnesses suffer unnecessarily.”
Among the upgrades in medical care, the settlement requires that staff establish and follow schedules for assessing, treating, and monitoring detainees’ physical and mental health problems. In the current system, a detainee in critical need of care can go without attention for weeks. The agreement also stipulates that staff track detainees’ medical records and provide essential medications without interruption.
“If the state actually carries out its responsibilities under this agreement, it will finally meet its constitutional and ethical responsibilities for the health and well-being of the people it holds,” said Elizabeth Alexander.
The settlement comes after the Public Justice Center, the Law Offices of Elizabeth Alexander, and the ACLU moved to reopen Duvall v. Hogan in June 2015. A 2009 settlement and court orders dating back to 1993 had failed to eliminate inhumane conditions at the Baltimore City Detention Center.
“Today’s settlement shows a commitment by the state to the health and safety of the thousands spending days, weeks, and months at the Baltimore City Detention Center,” said David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “By upgrading the living conditions and medical care, the state will improve public health, inside and outside the jail.”
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