Crammed for hours inside a concrete room at Baltimore’s booking center, the men awaiting court hearings jockey for space on the floor. The air is thick and foul, so they covet the patch of floor by the sliding steel door, reports the Sun. There, inmates put their cheeks to the floor to suck fresh air through the crack beneath the door. Last week, a judge ordered the state officials who run the Central Booking and Intake Center to comply with state law and release all suspects who don’t receive a court hearing within a day of being arrested. But the judge said his temporary order is not a long-term solution.
The problem is that Central Booking – a hulking gray structure downtown – is being used to detain more suspects for longer than was ever expected. It has become a holding facility rather than a processing center. Opened in 1995, the building cost $56 million. “I don’t think [the public] got what they were promised,” said Natalie Finegar, the chief attorney at Central Booking for the Office of the Public Defender. “The place opened up overcrowded, and it only got worse.” Officials denied requests by the Sun to tour the facility, but defense attorneys, suspects and others described the building and the conditions.