Baltimore Jail Settlement to Bring Major Improvements in Medical Care, Facilities

November 18, 2015 10:15 am

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BALTIMORE – The Public Justice Center, the Law Offices of Elizabeth Alexander, and the American Civil Liberties Union today announced a settlement agreement in Duvall v. Hogan, their class-action suit on behalf of pretrial detainees in the Baltimore City Detention Center. Under the settlement, the state of Maryland must overhaul the jail’s health care system and make 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.

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

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.

“This settlement agreement, combined with the closing of the Baltimore City Men’s Detention Center, will protect the health and safety of detainees and staff by cleaning up and fixing up facilities that have fallen into vermin-ridden disrepair,” 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. A 2009 settlement and court orders dating back to 1993 had failed to eliminate inhumane conditions at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

“Thousands of people spend time in the Baltimore City Detention Center. Their health and safety matter,” said David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “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.”

The agreement must still be approved by U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander, after class members are given notice and an opportunity to comment. If approved, the agreement will then be enforceable as an order of the court.

For the settlement agreement and more information about Duvall v. Hogan:

For information about the ACLU’s National Prison Project:

For information about the Public Justice Center:

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