Women's jail said to be in compliance

State claims inmates being medically evaluated

September 20, 2002|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

After weeks of court filings and legal debate over the overheated conditions in the Baltimore women's detention center, state officials said yesterday that they are in full compliance with a judge's order to cool the jail and medically evaluate inmates within 12 hours of their arrival.

Air conditioners have been installed in the jail, and every woman is now screened within six hours of arrival, said Leonard A. Sipes, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz issued a temporary restraining order Aug. 16, saying the inmates were at "risk of imminent serious injury" because of the heat.

On any given day, the temperature inside was 10 or 15 degrees higher than outside. About 580 women are held at the downtown facility, where most live in close quarters in dormitory rooms with rows of bunk beds.

Sipes said the air conditioners were installed weeks ago, and the new screening policy was implemented Sept. 14.

A day earlier, lawyers for the jail filed a report in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, stating that they were not complying with Motz's order.

"The screenings, if they take place at all, are occurring an average of 56 hours after admission," reads the Sept. 13 report by the office of the attorney general, which represents the jail. It says that 57 percent of the women transferred to the detention center in the first week of this month had not been screened as of last week.

Sipes said all women have since been screened. He said that more women were evaluated than the report indicated.

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