What's at Stake
The settlement agreement was approved by the court on June 28, 2016.
This case challenges inadequate medical and mental health care and other conditions of confinement at the Baltimore City Booking and Intake Center (BCBIC). The ACLU represents detainees in the jail, challenging multiple conditions that place detained persons’ health and safety at risk. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland and is overseen by Judge Ellen Lipton Hollander.
Under the 2016 settlement agreement in the case, the State of Maryland (which operates the jail) agreed to make major overhauls to the delivery of medical and mental health care, and make improvements to the facilities to accommodate people with disabilities. The requirements include timely screening of people upon intake to the jail to identify health care needs; timely responses to requests for medical or mental health care; providing psychiatric and chronic care medications or assistive devices to people who need them; appropriate monitoring of people on suicide watch; and increased training of health care staff. The settlement agreement also requires the jail to overhaul its medical record-keeping system and to make physical plant improvements.
The court appointed independent correctional mental health and medical care experts to conduct inspections of the jail, review documentation, and provide two reports per year as to whether the health care system is improving. Since 2016, the experts’ reports have consistently shown a failure by the State to implement the promised reforms. We returned to the court in 2020 and 2021 and asked that the State be ordered to take additional steps to abide by our settlement. In May 2021 Judge Hollander directed the State to provide a plan to achieve compliance by December 2023. In May 2022, she extended the deadline for the State to achieve compliance to June 30, 2024.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to secure multiple court orders to reduce the risk of harm from infection to detainees, including an order that the jail develop a policy governing the monitoring and treatment of detainees, an order requiring weekly COVID-19 testing and mask distribution, and an order requiring the State to provide additional information about its distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Attorneys for the detainees are the ACLU National Prison Project, the Law Offices of Elizabeth Alexander, and the Public Justice Center.