Baltimore Jail Created ‘Nightmare’ for COVID-Vulnerable Staff, Inmates, Suit Charges

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A federal lawsuit alleges that corrections officials have mishandled an outbreak of the coronavirus at the Chesapeake Detention Facility in Baltimore City, leading to one-third of its inmates and staff members contracting the virus in less than one month, reports the Baltimore Sun. Filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of a number of inmates at the facility, the class-action lawsuit names Warden Calvin Wilson and Robert Green, Maryland secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services, as defendants, saying their “actions have fueled this outbreak, and they also have failed to take appropriate action in response.” According to the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, 169 inmates at the facility as of Feb. 15 have contracted COVID-19, the state-run lockup for men and women awaiting federal trial. In addition, 80 employees have contracted the virus. The facility has about 400 inmates and 220 employees.

John Fowler, counsel with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which filed the lawsuit, said facility officials didn’t separate COVID-positive inmates from the rest of the population, creating a “nightmare situation [where] people are getting exposed left and right.” According to the lawsuit, some inmates have been moved to a formerly closed facility that has a dormitory-style layout with beds separated by about two feet. Officials ignored inmates’ requests for medical attention and did not always promptly responded to residents who are exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19, the suit alleged.

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