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Uncertainty Among Family Members As Baltimore City Jail Closure Underway

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Right now, the closure of the Baltimore City Detention Center is well underway. With it, there is uncertainty among family members and new insight from those who had to live in the dangerous conditions.

Investigator Mike Hellgren with the next steps.

State officials have released very little information about the exact mechanics of the transfer of hundreds of inmates, citing safety concerns, but a number of family members have many questions.

The Baltimore City jail is infamous not only for inmates using sex and drugs to control correctional officers, but also for the decrepit conditions inside.

So much so, the governor said he could no longer justify spending millions every year to fix it, and ordered the men's facility shut down.

Richard Westcott lived at the jail for a year. He was the voice of inmates as their council president.

"Mold and mildew. There was a staph outbreak in there. People were getting bit by spiders. It was infested with rats, roaches and mice and all other kinds of vermin," he said.

The state is taking most of the 1,092 inmates and moving them to other facilities in Baltimore.

Still, concern remains among their family and friends--like Sharonda Williams.

"No, they haven't told any of us anything. Nothing at all," she said. "He says when he asks about it, they just brush him off."

The frustration from some loved ones is growing. WJZ heard from one mom who's been waiting more than 24 hours for her son's release.

"Them guys in there are going through hell right now," said Westcott.

The state's head of correctional services has tried to reassure both advocates and families.

"We're going to accomplish this closure quickly and without compromising detainees' access to their legal protections," said Stephen T. Moyer, Maryland Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services. "This facility should have been closed years ago."

The state has set up several hotlines for family members.

It's worth noting--most of the people there have not been convicted of the crimes they are sitting in jail for, they are simply awaiting trial.

The jail dates back to before the Civil War.

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