Federal officials may build a privately run prison next to a historic black community and in the path of an ambitious waterfront project in eastern Baltimore County, reports the Baltimore Sun. Correctional Services Corp. of Sarasota, Fla., has proposed the 1,750-bed prison south of a neighborhood called Turners Station neighborhood in Dundalk, Md.
The Sun says the news has shaken the Dundalk area, once the heart of Maryland’s steel and shipbuilding industries. The area, hard-hit by Tropical Storm Isabel two months ago, is pursuing a long-term redevelopment plan to reverse years of decline marked by high unemployment and the loss of younger residents.
“Clearly, the bureaucrats in Washington have no sense of the community they seek to impact,” said County Executive James T. Smith Jr. Courtney Speed, a Turners Station community leader, said its 2,200 residents “are totally opposed to this prison. We’ve been working hard to revitalize our community, one with a great heritage.”
U.S. Justice Department spokesman Jorge Martinez said, “We do need a facility in the Baltimore-Washington area.” The proposed facility would hold two types of prisoners: a larger group of etrial detainees who are now held locally until being transported to other federal facilities, and a smaller group of people suspected of violating federal immigration laws. The Homeland Security Department has asked for 500 beds.