Hogan does not plan to rebuild Baltimore jail

Gov. Larry Hogan's budget does not propose building a replacement for the Baltimore jail he closed in 2015. (WJZ)

Gov. Larry Hogan does not plan to rebuild the notorious Baltimore City Detention Center, aides said Monday.

The Republican governor shut down the state-run facility nearly two years ago, began demolition last year and included no money this year in his proposed budget to replace the Civil War-era jail, which was plagued by corruption and scandal.


Black state lawmakers criticized Hogan last year for prioritizing the jail over construction projects at two historically black universities. Then he revoked money to design a new facility and spent it on the schools instead.

Legislative budget analysts told the General Assembly's budget committees Monday that money to rebuild the jail no longer appears in Hogan's planning documents.


Baltimore's state lawmakers, all Democrats, were already frustrated that Hogan eliminated money for new programs for the city in his budget proposal and left city schools with $42 million less in state aid.

The realization that the jail would not be rebuilt sparked mixed reactions.

"We need to decide if that's something we want," Del. Maggie McIntosh said. McIntosh chairs the House Appropriations Committee, which will review the budget proposal.

A Hogan spokesman said the governor was open to changing his mind if city lawmakers decided they wanted the jail.

Spokesman Doug Mayer said Hogan's construction plan "reflects the priorities of the Baltimore City delegation as presented to us very clearly last year."

"We'd certainly would like to hear what education projects they would like to cut in order to move forward with a jail," Mayer said.

City lawmakers have promised to lobby for school funding, mentorship and after-school programs, extended hours at libraries and other programs the legislature passed last year to help the city.

Hogan proposes cutting that money from the budget to close a half-billion-dollar gap.

"Here you have the Baltimore package disappear," McIntosh said. "We'll have to work this out."

The jail, which would cost $450 million to replace, is lower on the priority list.

"I haven't heard anything about the need for a new jail," said Del. Curt Anderson, chair of the city's delegation in Annapolis.

The cancellation of the jail project follows other moves by Hogan to eliminate planned spending on construction projects in Baltimore.


He canceled the $2.9 billion Red Line light rail in 2015 and this year voted to void leases that underpinned the state's $1.5 billion contract to redevelop State Center.

State Sen. Bill Ferguson, a member of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, said the jail represents "just another half-billion of projects that were planned for Baltimore that are not coming.

"When you're talking about jobs in Baltimore, the actions don't follow the words."

Hogan has continued a program started by Gov. Martin O'Malley, his Democratic predecessor, that will pump $1 billion into rebuilding city schools. And Hogan has sought federal funding to expand the Howard Street Tunnel — a $425 million project intended to increase activity at Baltimore's port.

Without a single, stand-alone facility dedicated to city inmates, state officials have been housing them elsewhere.

On Monday, officials at the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services reported that about 2,100 pretrial inmates were in their custody in Baltimore.

All are being held in various state correctional facilities in the city. Most are cloistered together near downtown.

Of the 2,100 inmates, 948 were being detained in the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center.

Other inmates are being housed in the Maryland Reception Diagnostic and Classification Center, the Baltimore City Correctional Center, the Maryland Transition Center and the Jail Industries Building.

Baltimore inmates sentenced for less than a year had been housed in the closed jail. But when Hogan shut down the detention center in July 2015, those inmates were moved to state prisons outside the city, according to the state correctional system.

Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott, chair of the council Public Safety Committee, said he supports less spending on jails and correctional institutions and more spending on educational facilities, as a general principle.

But he said he wondered if keeping inmates in arrangements that were supposed to be temporary puts the safety of correctional officers and inmates at risk.



Recommended on Baltimore Sun