Hoyer amendment would bar U.S. spending to move prison boot camp Residents oppose Fort Meade site

October 07, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer plans to introduce today an amendment to next year's military construction bill to cut off federal funding for moving the state prison boot camp from Jessup to Fort Meade.

The amendment would forbid federal money to be used "to establish a boot camp at Fort Meade in fiscal year 1994."

It is the latest step by members of the Maryland congressional delegation to stop the state proposal, which has been endorsed by Fort Meade officials and now awaits a final decision from the Department of the Army.

It is unclear how much federal money would be spent to establish the camp at Fort Meade. The state has agreed to refurbish 29 World War II barracks and build a perimeter fence.

But Mr. Hoyer's spokesman, Jesse Jacobs, said the boot camp lTC could not relocate to Fort Meade if the bill passes because federal spending that has anything to do with the camp, including paying for a phone call or having Military Police officers help guard prisoners, would be prohibited -- at least in the next fiscal year.

Fort Meade officials declined to comment on Mr. Hoyer's proposal.

State Del. John G. Gary, R-Millersville, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, has threatened to try to cut off state funds for the boot camp if it is moved to Fort Meade.

In exchange for allowing the camp on post, Fort Meade would get 2,000 hours of free inmate labor a week. The state Division of Corrections would run the camp, and Fort Meade would coordinate the work projects.

State officials proposed moving the boot camp to Fort Meade last year to make room for women prisoners at its crowded complex in Jessup and to expand the camp from 365 inmates to 500.

The camp features a rigorous six-month course aimed at changing attitudes of first- and second-time, nonviolent offenders.

Local community groups, county council members, the county executive, both Maryland senators and several Maryland congressmen oppose the move.

They argue that such a facility would be too close to neighboring homes and would not fit into the "federal office park" that Fort Meade officials have said they want to establish.

But Col. Robert G. Morris III, Fort Meade's garrison commander, recommended the boot camp for his installation last month, saying the free labor would be welcome in a time of military cutbacks.

Capt. Bill Buckner, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said there is no timetable for making a decision on the camp.

"We received a packet from Fort Meade," he said. "The Army is reviewing it."

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