DPSCS Prepares Correctional Facilities and Inmate Population as Hurricane Irene Approaches

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Towson, MD (August 26, 2011)---The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services is taking a number of precautions so secure correctional facilities keep safe Maryland’s inmate population and as Hurricane Irene approaches the Mid-Atlantic. The Department and its Divisional leadership are in constant contact with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to stay apprised of all weather-related conditions.

Eastern Shore Region:

  • Because of Wicomico County’s evacuation of certain low-lying areas, the Poplar Hill Pre-release Unit at Quantico has moved its low-security inmates to Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI), which is across the Wicomico River in Somerset County. Poplar Hill’s 188 inmates have been taken to ECI, where they will be housed temporarily in the prison’s two gymnasiums.
  • ECI is fully stocked with food, medical supplies, and other essential provisions to meet the needs of all inmates and facility staff.
  • DPSCS is working with Maryland Environmental Service to prepare ECI’s self-contained power plant for emergency operations should the regions power go out. Extra fuel for the power plant has been stored and ECI will have sufficient power to meet all needs.
  • If flooding occurs, the ECI will shelter-in-place vertically evacuating inmates to the institution’s upper tiers. Although ECI is shown in Maryland’s 100 Year flood Plane Map, the facility itself has never flooded.

Baltimore Region:

  • The Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center (BCBIC) and Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC), which are located in a flood-prone area, have sandbags and other flood-mitigation measures in place.

All DPSCS Facilities:

  • At all DPSCS correctional facilities, food, medical supplies, and other essential provisions have been checked to ensure proper quantities are in place.
  • Maintenance personnel have thoroughly inspected facilities, secured all loose objects, and made certain that fences and drains are clear in an effort to minimize flooding.
  • All DPSCS essential public safety services offices are likewise preparing for moves to alternate locations.
  • Generators are in place and fueled-up, and essential personnel have charged mobile devices, laptops, etc. to ensure that critical work and communication may continue in the event of power outages.
  • Staff have been alerted to the possibility of longer shifts in the event that severe flooding or other emergency situations prevent personnel on the next shift from making it into work.
  • All correctional facilities are prepared for “vertical evacuation” in the event that flooding forces some inmates to move to higher floors within the prisons and pre-release centers.
  • All facilities have already been structurally inspected this week due to the earthquake (with no significant damage noted).

Other DPSCS Preparations:

  • The Emergency Number Systems Board, the DPSCS agency that provides training and technology for all Maryland 9-1-1 centers, reports that all 24 State 9-1-1 centers have backup equipment and locations in place. Also, a pool of specially-trained 9-1-1 center telecommunicators is on standby should extra personnel be required.
  • The state’s more than 40 Parole and Probation offices are preparing to use alternate facilities to maintain contact with offenders in the event that the storm causes office closures that stretch into next week.
  • We ask that the public, media and family members of those housed in our correctional facilities follow our social media outlets – twitter and facebook - for updates over the weekend.