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Settlement Agreement Reach in Duvall v. O'Malley

Today, the United States District Court approved the settlement agreement reached between Maryland and the Public Justice Center and the American Civil Liberties Union. The agreement will lead to dramatic improvements in the quality of medical and mental health care provided to detainees at the Baltimore City Detention Center and effectively settles major portions of a longstanding class-action lawsuit.

For the last six years, the Public Justice Center has been working inside the jail to advocate for better health care and to bring attention to the conditions in the jail. With our partner, the ACLU, we filed a motion in 2003 to reopen the medical and physical plant sections of a consent decree that had been brokered in the case, Duvall v. O'Malley, which dates back to 1971. In 2004, a district court judge agreed to reopen the case, and the PJC and ACLU began settlement negotiations in 2007. Settlement was reached in August 2009 but before it could take effect, notice had to be given to the class members and the federal court had to approve the agreement as fair to the class. The settlement was not opposed by any class member and is the case will now enter a two year monitoring period.

As a result of the approved settlement agreement, pretrial detainees will receive responses to sick calls within 72 hours, jail officials will be required to provide ongoing treatment to detainees with chronic diseases, an on-site psychiatrist will be available to detainees five days a week, and detainees with disabilities will be provided with the necessary housing supplies.

PJC attorneys Sally Dworak-Fisher and Wendy Hess, and PJC client advocates Levern Blackmon, Niecy Taylor, Tanisha Carpenter, and Amanda White have worked on bringing this case to a successful conclusion. The success of this case is also due to the dedication of numerous former PJC staff, interns, and volunteers.

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