Published on: Monday, February 22, 2021

Advocates for detainees inside Maryland’s Chesapeake Detention Facility filed a federal lawsuit Saturday alleging that a host of unsanitary conditions fostered a coronavirus outbreak that affected 234 inmates and employees (article available here). Previous coverage of the outbreak available here.

The class-action lawsuit, filed in Baltimore’s U.S. District Court, alleges among other things that guards in the pretrial facility of 400 detainees rarely wore masks and that healthy detainees were forced into contaminated cells that had not been sanitized. The complaint names Robert L. Green, the department secretary, and Calvin Wilson, the Chesapeake warden, as co-defendants.

In one case, a woman who was new to the facility was kept in a cell flanked on both sides by cells that contained male detainees who had recently tested positive for the coronavirus. In another, a male detainee was forced to stay in the same cell with a cellmate who was clearly showing symptoms of infection, including coughing and a fever, the suit states.

“I was sleeping with my mask on,” the detainee was quoted as saying in the complaint filed on behalf of eight detainees who have either recently tested positive or have underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to infection. “I tried to clean my cell. But I couldn’t really sanitize it.”