This report summarizes the results of the self-reported survey of 200 men detained at the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC) conducted from May 2009 to July 2009, known as the Window Replication Project. Over 35,000 people are committed to BCDC annually, 86% of which are men. In general, jails contain a diverse population of individuals in varying stages of the criminal justice system—from pre-trial, post-conviction, and sentenced. Men and women in jail may be detained waiting for trial, and among those convicted, are awaiting sentencing or serving their sentence if the incarceration period is less than 12 to 18 months. In addition, a number of people in jail are in a transitional phase—those sentenced to longer terms may be awaiting transfer to a state prison while others may be held awaiting transfer to a federal, state or other local jurisdiction. Among jails, BCDC is unique in the respect that the facility is neither directed nor funded by Baltimore City. BCDC is part of the state correctional system run by the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS).
BCDC is one of the twenty largest detention centers in the nation, with an average daily population of 3,997 at midyear 2009 and ranked third in holding the highest proportion of its population in jail when compared to similar institutions. It is important to note that such large, urban jails are faced with particular challenges due to the demographics and special needs of the population. For example, large urban jails typically have higher minority populations, disproportionate to community demographics, than rural jails. Moreover, mental illness, infectious disease and HIV are more prevalent at these jails.
Emanating from a mutual desire to better understand the needs of men at BCDC, faith-based and community-based organizations and local government joined together to collaborate on the Window Replication Project. Catholic Charities of Baltimore and Choice Research Associates originated the inquiry and other key players subsequently joined, including the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office on Criminal Justice representing the City of Baltimore, and Power Inside, a community-based organization. Power Inside shared its 2005 jail reentry needs assessment of 148 women detainees at BCDC, The Window Study—Release from Jail: Moment of Crisis or Window of Opportunity for Female Detainees?, which formed the foundation of the Window Replication Project.
Once the Window Replication Project partners were established in May 2008, the partnership obtained approval from the DPSCS Research Committee and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with DPSCS to conduct the survey. The partnership between the members of the Window Replication Project and DPSCS continues in the hope that the multiple needs of this population can be better met through the use of these study findings at both the programmatic
and policy level. Overall, the survey results detailed below confirm what was suspected about the life experiences and level of need of men detained in BCDC.