Supermax to add 96 U.S. detainees

The Baltimore Sun

Maryland's Supermax prison in Baltimore will house an additional 96 federal detainees in an effort to address a large increase in the number of prisoners awaiting trial, U.S. Attorney for Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein said yesterday.

The number of federal pretrial detainees in the state rose from an average of 253 per day in 1999 to 464 in 2007, and spiked to 532 this past May, federal authorities said.

The move increases to 240 the number of federal prisoners held at the Baltimore facility.

Rosenstein has been voicing alarm for years about the lack of prison space to house inmates held without bail while awaiting trial. Keeping defendants in Baltimore allows them to consult with attorneys and testify while minimizing the risk and expense involved in transportation.

"Pretrial detention is a crucial law enforcement tool, because keeping dangerous defendants in custody prior to trial prevents them from committing additional crimes and intimidating witnesses," Rosenstein said in a statement.

Rosenstein credited the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and the federal detention trustee, Stacia A. Hylton, for brokering the deal.

Gary D. Maynard, secretary of the state corrections department, said in a statement that the agency is "proud to work with the federal government fighting crime and helping to ensure our criminal justice system is thorough and effective. This partnership is vital to making Maryland's federal court system both fair and efficient."

There is no federal pretrial detention center in the Baltimore area. Federal authorities must lease space from state and local facilities. Pretrial detainees awaiting trial in Maryland are held in up to 20 state, local and county facilities, federal authorities said.

In 2006, Rosenstein asked Montgomery County officials to allow new federal detainees in the county's jail. At the time, Montgomery County officials said the request was impossible to honor.

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