BALTIMORE — On Thursday morning, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan marked the beginning of a 14-month long , $27.5 million demolition project of the Baltimore City Detention Center.
Once demolition is complete, Hogan said a therapeutic facility will be built in its place, to provide mental health and substance abuse treatment along with a re-entry planning program for up to 1,400 people.
"This site which was long a source of embarrassment and shame for the city and state, will now become a beacon of hope struggling with addiction," said Hogan.
The Maryland Board of Public Works approved the demolition back in June by a unanimous 3-0 vote, and awarded the contract to Towson Mechanical, Inc. of Parkton.
Governor Hogan, who is one of the three board members, closed the detention center in 2015.
Hogan said "the Baltimore City Detention Center was known as one of the worst prisons in America, where corruption and poor conditions were dangerous for employees and detainees."
Overall, 16 major structures and 23 minor structures will be demolished. They include buildings that were part of the closed portion of the detention center, as well as some buildings that were part of the Metropolitan Transition Center, which was formerly known as the Maryland Penitentiary.
"Individuals being held here had not yet been convicted of a crime, yet they were forced to live in inhumane, appalling conditions, and corruption ran rampant with gang members given free rein to essentially run the facility," said Hogan.
A 2013 investigation unveiled a widespread system of female correctional officers having sex with inmates, then smuggling drugs and money for them.
Eventually 44 individuals from the Baltimore City Detention Center were indicted in a racketeering conspiracy case that resulted in 40 convictions including 24 correctional officers.
"For decades there were calls to shut down this jail which went unanswered by elected leaders. When I became governor I pledged to take action and we did exactly what we said we were going to do. Leaders in the legislator said it would take 10-years to close this jail, we shut the jail down in just a few weeks," Hogan said.
Watch the Governor's full remarks below;