Mosby: Don't build a new jail on the same spot

Nick Mosby: If Gov. Hogan wants to build a new jail, he should do it somewhere else.

To those on the outside, the Baltimore City Detention Center sits like an abandoned fortification restricting economic growth and neighborhood revitalization and serves as a reminder that we place too high of a priority on locking up young African American men.

And now Gov. Larry Hogan is proposing to spend $480 million to tear down the current facility and rebuild the men's prison in the exact same location ("Lawmakers dismayed college projects delayed to replace Baltimore's jail," Feb. 17).

We know that $480 million could be put to better use creating workforce development programs, improving our public schools, increasing lead paint abatement or funding critical infrastructure projects, but if Governor Hogan is determined to build a new prison, the state should consider other industrial locations that are accessible to families and loved ones but outside of our downtown and outside of our neighborhoods.

I have requested a meeting with Governor Hogan to discuss this issue in detail, and I will propose a joint commission of state and city public safety, corrections, judicial representatives, economic development officials and community members to determine if there is a better location more suited for the jail and to gauge private sector interest in helping to revitalize this area of our downtown.

Opening this area up for redevelopment will help to reconnect our divided city and bring increased private investment to Baltimore's east side. On the other hand, if Governor Hogan moves forward with his current plan to build a new jail downtown, we can write off private investment in this portion of our city for decades to come.

We should challenge ourselves to think anew about revitalization efforts for this critical corridor and gateway to Baltimore's east side.

Let's not squander $480 million on a downtown prison.

Nick Mosby, Baltimore

The writer, a Democrat, represents District 7 on the Baltimore City Council and is a candidate for mayor.

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