Friday, December 3

Maryland resolves class action lawsuit over coronavirus cases in detention center

The department agreed to begin vaccinating detainees and educating them on the benefits of receiving an injection.

MARYLAND. The complaint described multiple cases in which the virus was allowed to spread / The Washington Post

Maryland correctional officials plan to begin vaccinating detainees inside the Chesapeake Detention Center as part of a court settlement reached in a federal lawsuit that alleged that a series of unsanitary conditions there allowed the coronavirus to spread.

The class action lawsuit, filed in Baltimore District Court in February, alleged that guards at pre-trial facilities for 400 detainees rarely wore masks and that healthy detainees were forced into contaminated cells that had not been disinfected.

Since last March, 274 inmates and staff within the Baltimore facility have tested positive for the virus. Since then, most of those people have recovered, according to the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

In a court settlement reached Thursday, the department agreed to begin vaccinating detainees and educating them about the benefits of receiving an injection before May 1.

The department will also implement measures to keep detainees who have tested positive for the virus away from those who have not been infected, quarantine detainees who have been exposed to someone infected, and conduct weekly tests for coronavirus in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.

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“Staff and residents leave this facility every day,” said John Fowler, an attorney for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law, who filed the lawsuit in association with the Washington law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner. “Anything that happens inside the facility affects Baltimore, so this agreement keeps the facility safer and also keeps Baltimore safer.”

In the settlement agreement, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services did not admit any wrongdoing.

“Since the first day of the pandemic, the department has been committed to the health and safety of its detainees, inmates and employees,” said Mark Vernarelli, a spokesman for the department, noting that Maryland’s correctional system is ranked 37th in the nation in its rate of coronavirus cases.

“The settlement related to the Chesapeake Detention Center lawsuit reinforces the department’s longstanding commitment to protecting its employees and incarcerated men and women,” said Vernarelli.

The complaint described multiple cases in which the virus was allowed to spread between detainees and the guards who were guarding them.

The Washington Post. Free translation by El Tiempo Latino.



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