Maryland turned over the keys to a Baltimore corrections facility to the federal government yesterday, marking a new era in housing U.S. detainees in Maryland that authorities called cheaper, more efficient, and more just, reports the Baltimore Sun. The deal means the promise of $20 million in federal funds toward new state prisons. The Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center —known as “Supermax” when it served as a maximum-security prison for state inmates — will now house only detainees awaiting trial in federal court in Baltimore, for which the state will receive $1.9 million per month.
The change puts about 500 of 700 detainees awaiting federal trial in Baltimore in close proximity to court. For years, some federal inmates were housed alongside state prisoners at the center. Most of the federal detainees being held without bail were scattered throughout county jails and other facilities in the mid-Atlantic region, requiring defense attorneys to travel hundreds of miles and across state lines — including to Ohio — to prepare for trial. “It’s at the basics of our civil liberties,” said Stacia A. Hylton, director of the U.S. Marshals Service, noting that lawyers and family members will now have easier access to inmates. Federal judges and public defenders in Maryland have urged for years that the state’s growing number of federal detainees be held closer to where they will be tried, arguing that the court suffered unnecessary costs and delays under the previous arrangement.