Bill seeks to halt plan for prison at Sollers Point

Ruppersberger's measure also affects 3 proposed sites in Prince George's

December 10, 2003|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger has introduced legislation that would prohibit the U.S. Justice Department from building a proposed maximum-security prison in eastern Baltimore County or at any of three sites in Prince George's County.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, has said she plans to file a similar bill in the Senate.

Responding to angry community protests, members of the Maryland delegation tacked language last month onto the omnibus spending bill now before Congress that would prevent the Federal Office of Detention Trustees, an agency of the Justice Department, from contracting with a private vendor to build or staff a prison.

Ruppersberger's bill would extend that ban to the entire Justice Department.

The bill gets rid of any loopholes and swiftly ends any plans for a new maximum-security detention center, said Ruppersberger, a 2nd District Democrat and former Baltimore County executive.

Efforts to reach the Justice Department for comment were unsuccessful.

However, a spokesman for the department has said it hopes to begin hearings on the prison proposals next month.

Correctional Services Corp. of Sarasota, Fla., has proposed building a 1,750-bed prison at Sollers Point in Dundalk, near historic Turners Station.

Two other private corrections companies have offered plans for federal prisons in the communities of Brandywine, East Gate and Cheltenham in Prince George's County.

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