Mortality Rate and Serious Disease Management at Baltimore Pretrial Facilities Continue Positive Trends
Intensive focus on health, suicide, and violence issues paying dividends

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Towson, MD (July 8, 2010)---The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services’ intensive effort to control chronic diseases, increase healthcare awareness, and decrease detainee deaths continues to make great strides, in stark contrast to a report released this week by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). That report cited Baltimore’s 2000-2007 pretrial detainee mortality rate as being the highest in the nation.

Since the current DPSCS administration came into office in 2007, a dramatic shift to proactive healthcare, education, and suicide prevention has made in impact at the Baltimore Central Booking and Detention centers. Those facilities, in the Division of Pretrial Detention and Services (DPDS) are among the busiest in the nation, with an average daily population of more than 4,000 men and women awaiting trial in the city.

Baltimore historically has one of the highest rates of violence in the nation, and is among the top five American cities in rates of HIV, hepatitis, and other communicable diseases. Intravenous drug use is also a huge problem. Since approximately 85% of the detainees in the pretrial facilities are city residents, it’s not surprising that most of them answer “yes” to questions at intake related to those issues. 78% report yes when asked if they suffer from any of these diseases.

The BJS report cited Baltimore as averaging more than 13 deaths per year at the pretrial facilities between 2000 and 2007. That number has dropped: to 12 in 2008, 7 in ’09, and 3 so far this year.

HIV education programs have resulted in a 238% increase in the number of detainees submitting to voluntary HIV testing since FY ’07. Additionally, we are the first system in the country to have a licensed methadone program within a pretrial facility. Other highlights include a reduction in hospital admissions for infectious diseases among detainees; fewer ER visits; fewer cell phones and contraband entering the facility (reducing overall violence); reduced hospitalizations for cardiac care and diabetes; and an intensive suicide-reduction effort.

Important statistics are listed below.

The O’Malley-Brown administration came into office in January 2007. Since then the state has made substantial progress in improving conditions related to medical care, population safety and suicide prevention. All of this is shown in the numbers. In both the Baltimore City Detention Center (the jail) and the Division of Correction, we’ve made great strides in managing health care. Highlights include a 238% increase in voluntary HIV testing since FY2007 (going back to previous administration).


  • Coupled with education and outreach among detained/inmate population, last year 24 people within the system actually saw their HIV symptoms disappear last year though the use of anti-viral medications.
  • Streamlined testing policy in FY09; these efforts led to a 96% increase in offenders tested at intake over FY08
  • Additionally, better staff training and outreach, increased testing for offenders showing secondary symptoms of HIV by 44% over FY08. Overall, 12,760 offenders received voluntary HIV testing in FY09 – up 82% over FY08 and 238% over FY07.
  • Tested 13,079 through June FY2010


  • In 2008, Maryland became the first state system in the country to be awarded a license for methadone use from the Sub¬stance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Four methadone programs were initiated within the Division of Pretrial Detention and Services (Baltimore Jail).
  • In FY09 DPSCS treated 1,082 detainees. In FY2010 through June we’ve treated 1,225

Some other quick numbers related to inmate/detainee heath care throughout the DPSCS system:

Cardiac Care/Infectious Disease Control

  • FY08 vs. FY09
  • 18% drop in infectious disease related admissions to hospitals
  • FY09 vs FY10 (June 1)
  • 49% drop in infections disease related admission to hospitals

Diabetes Disease Management:

  • FY07 vs. FY09
  • 24% increase in diabetic inmates with Hemoglobin A1C levels (blood sugars) below seven - levels far lesslikely to develop complications

Increased Treatment Capacity and Utilization

  • FY06 vs. FY09
  • 44% increase in available slots
  • 73% increase in slots utilized
  • 20% increase in avg. percent of slots filled
  • FY07 vs. FY09
  • 37% increase in completion rate

ER Visits

  • 17% reduction from FY08 to FY09
  • 21% reduction from FY09 to FY10 (June 1)