In the wake of this year's corruption scandal at a Baltimore jail, a Maryland legislative commission is issuing 18 recommendations today, including endorsement of a 10-year, $533 million plan to replace the sprawling, antiquated complex where guards were indicted for aiding a dangerous gang, the Washington Post reports. The commission is comprised of a dozen legislators. Other proposals include tougher penalties for cell phone smuggling, subjecting all new correctional officers to polygraph tests and relocating some high-risk offenders from the Baltimore jail to longer-term state correctional facilities.
Several recommendations include broader changes to the state prison system while others more narrowly focus on the state-run Baltimore City Detention Center. The commission was set up after the federal indictments this spring of 13 corrections officers and leaders of the Black Guerrilla Family gang at the Baltimore detention center. A draft of the commission's report notes that the primary Baltimore jail was built in 1859. While it has undergone 11 renovations since then, it remains sorely lacking in several respects. Those include plumbing failures, broken elevators, bug and rodent infestations and mold. Moreover, the design of the facility creates poor lines of sight for officers, which make assaults more likely, the report says. And other features, such as cells with bars, makes its easier to smuggle contraband within the jail.