Behind the Bars: The Changing Worlds of the Harford County Detention Center, Part I

The placement of the Harford County Detention Center at the intersection of two of the county’s major roads seems appropriate.

Just as Route 924 and Route 1 converge a few hundred yards from the county’s only corrections facility, the detention center is now the crossroads of a rapidly growing suburban community and regional law enforcement efforts. The combination has, over the years, dramatically altered operations at the facility, and the lives of those who work and are incarcerated there.

The biggest change will come later this year, when a major $29.3 million expansion of the facility comes online, increasing the detention center’s capacity to approximately 800 inmates from about 500. According to the sheriff’s office, the new wing will also include expanded medical and in-processing facilities and add additional, modern maximum-security and isolation cells.

The Dagger was offered a tour of the detention center following the August suicide of Jeffrey L. Lawson, who had been incarcerated there after an abortive bank robbery attempt. Lawson hung himself for several minutes before being cut down by corrections officers, and died later at a local hospital. Not long after, another inmate, accused murderer Michael Jones, was attacked by other inmates and sustained a fractured skill before deputies could break up the fight.

Sheriff’s office officials hoped the tour would help us shed light on life inside the detention center’s walls, and bring our readers a better understanding of the facility’s goals, processes and struggles. I visited the detention center twice; once in late October, and again in late February.

What follows is not intended to be the final, comprehensive word on the detention center. Two brief visits to an operation as logistically—and, for some, emotionally—complex as a jail is not enough time to make any blanket pronouncements. There are too many different worlds which co-exist alongside each other, and only those inhabiting each world are best able to define them.

Instead, The Dagger presents a brief glimpse into each as accurately as possible, and leaves it to the reader to draw their own conclusions—if they haven’t already.

A note to the reader: In both visits to the facility, security policy did not allow me to bring notebooks, writing implements, or even a voice recorder inside.

Furthermore, I took the pictures of the detention center’s interior, but the images were reviewed by Harford County Sheriff’s Office staff to ensure that they did not depict any security measures, such as the position of video cameras. Also, inmates were not allowed to be shown in photographs in order to protect their privacy, according to sheriff’s office spokeswoman Monica Worrell. A handful of shots that did were deleted, and other proposed shots were denied for the same reasons. Abiding by these restrictions was the deal we struck to be allowed to take images inside the detention center, and the very first images from inside the unfinished expansion wing.

Our look inside the detention center will be presented in two parts: first, an examination of a few facets of an inmate’s life behind bars, followed by a glimpse at the challenges faced by Harford County Sheriff’s Office correctional officers and Sheriff Jesse Bane.

The World of the Incarcerated

A storage area containing inmate uniforms and footwear.

The path of a person recently arrested and brought to the Harford County Detention Center is laid out in materials provided by the Sheriff’s Office:

The initial point of entry for all persons arrested is the Interagency Processing Center. An arrestee is brought into a secure sally port and an exchange of leg irons is conducted. While in the IPC, the prisoner is fingerprinted, photographed, has an Iris Scan to verify identification and a criminal history will be conducted to check for any wants or warrants. If the arrestee is sober and cooperative, they will be taken to a court commissioner located adjacent to the IPC and a bail will be set or the arrestee may be released on his/her own recognizance (Local resident, employed, family, type of charge, etc). If the arrestee is released on their own recognizance or can post the bail amount, and they have no other pending charges they will be released from the facility at that time. The processing of prisoners by IPC personnel permits the arresting agency to place their law enforcement officers back into service with minimal down time, saving an average of 45 minutes per prisoner.

If the arrestee cannot post bond, they will be taken to the booking side of the IPC. Information will be entered into a database, various forms will be completed, and all personal and clothing items will be taken, listed and secured in a property room. A strip or intake search will be conducted, depending on the type of charge and an inmate uniform will be issued, along with basic linen and toiletries. In most cases male arrestee’s will be placed into the classification holding block to await an interview with a classification counselor to determine permanent housing. Certain individuals may be placed into alternate housing areas depending on their demeanor, the amount of bond or the notoriety of the crime.

Arrestees with more serious charges or excessive bail amounts are normally housed in the maximum security cell block areas. Less serious charges warrant housing in medium security dormitory style housing. Inmates on active work release are housed on the lower level in minimum security dormitory style housing, as are inmates who are assigned to internal and external details. Three DSU (Direct Supervision Units) on the upper level house inmates who have been classified as minimum security and in certain cases medium security. One DSU is reserved for female inmates.

The view from the second floor of a Direct Supervision Unit.

A sense of unusual gloom pervades jails in movies and on television. But, visiting the inmate housing areas of the detention center, it’s hard not to be reminded of the stereotype.

In the maximum-, medium-, and some lower level minimum-security areas, the lights are left off for much of the day, even in the brightest noon hour. During my first tour, Michael Capasso, then a captain and the facility’s operations commander and now a newly-promoted major and the assistant warden, said this is done at the prisoners’ request. Many like to sleep or rest during the day, which is difficult with the bright overhead lights on. Still, the effect is unsettling—picture how odd your own home seems when the power goes out on a bright afternoon, with poorly-lit corners taking on a new appearance. Now add bars and an aging, institutional décor.

The four maximum security blocks in the existing jail are four long rooms, spokes off of a central area which houses a secured control room for deputies to monitor inmates. The blocks are separated from the central area by massive metal doors that look as if they could take a bomb blast without much trouble.

The edge of each maximum security area has a narrow walkway for corrections officers to move the length of the room. Inside, metal bunks are stacked barracks-style. Next to them, long plastic objects, similar to sleds lie on the ground. These are temporary beds, used to provide extra capacity when needed until the detention center’s expansion is complete.

Before entering the detention center, Capasso cautioned that inmates may make comments at me, or attempt to act out in other ways. Walking into the maximum security cell block, there was a definite buzz in the air, even with the fluorescent lights off. But none of the inmates said anything to me, at least that I could hear, though eyes were locked on our group from the moment we entered until the moment we left.

The entrance to a maximum-security cellblock. The inmate dayroom and bunks are to the right.

Each maximum-security cell block houses 16 inmates, overseen by corrections officers who have to enter the block to check on the inmates. But the new expansion will offer a very different maximum-security setup. Rather than long rooms and dormitory-style bedding, the new maximum-security blocks will be similar to the lower-security direct supervision units, with two-man rooms surrounding a common area. There, two 12-bed units will be overseen by a single officer seated in a secured room between the two units.

Although we did not enter them, seen through a window, the medium- and minimum-security areas are similarly dimly lit. Inmates pass the time by napping, reading, watching TV or, in one minimum-security unit, clustered around a video game system I couldn’t identify. I’m told it’s a privilege some inmates are allowed during their time in the detention center, but I can’t help but think that some members of the public might disagree with the practice.

(UPDATE: In response to several reader comments, I asked the Sheriff’s Office for further clarification about what I saw at a distance and through a small window, a seated individual holding a small object in his hands attached to a cord running out of sight, amid a group of other inmates. As I was not allowed to enter the cell block at the time of the original tour, I mentioned what I saw to Capasso, asking him if it was what it appeared to be, a group of inmates playing a video game. At that point, according to HCSO spokeswoman Monica Worrell, a “miscommunication” occurred. She claimed Capasso indicated that video games were possibly allowed as a privilege at other facilities, while I believed he said that video games were allowed as a privilege, period. The object in question was an electric hair trimmer, Worrell claimed, which she said met safety standards and was allowed to inmates during certain hours and inspected upon its return.)

In a direct supervision unit, all eyes were once again on our group. Here, up to 48 inmates occupy a two-story space lined with small two-person rooms surrounding an open area of tables. A pair of phones and a few showers occupy another part of the wall.

Two views from the ground floor of a Direct Supervision Unit.

Inmates milled around, talking to each other or watching TV, or reading a book at a table. The setting feels open, and inmates are free to move about the room throughout the day, with some restrictions. A single deputy oversees the group.
In the new expansion, one direct supervision unit will house inmates with behavioral issues, individuals who are currently scattered around the various units.

The one area my tour did not include was the isolation unit, four single-person cells adjacent to the maximum-security cell blocks. Both times I visited the detention center, the four cells were occupied—not an uncommon situation, I was told.

A temporary holding cell for inmates being processed into the detention center. The cell is similar to isolation cells elsewhere in the facility.

Depending on their specific factors, inmates have access to a variety of programs and work details. According to the Sheriff’s Office materials:

Program availability for inmates includes Work Release, GED, Anger Management, Open Doors, A.A., Bible Study, Church Services, Health Awareness, Drug Awareness, Life Skills, Overcomes, Workforce Readiness and Commitment to Change.

Detail availability for inmates includes Maintenance, Hall trusty, KP duty, Meal Server, Laundry, Commissary trusty and Warden’s Special detail. Maintenance trusty’s assist throughout the County, to include the Food Pantry, beautification projects, lawn mowing and litter clean-up in the Edgewood area.

Visiting is conducted three days per week, with each inmate allowed one thirty minute visit per week. Exercise videos are shown daily, and outdoor exercise is available when weather conditions permit. The DSU [direct supervision unit] areas have an exercise yard adjacent to the housing area, with access controlled by the DSU officer.

The ground level of the exercise yard. Inmate cell blocks are to the right.

A view of the exercise yard from the second story.

A debate over the approach—and even the need—to re-socialize prison inmates has raged nationwide for years, but the detention center has positioned itself as a proponent of education in life skills for its inmates. As high schools increasingly turn away from vocational training in favor of college prep and placement, those who don’t attend an institution of higher learning often don’t receive training in the skills they’ll need in the real world.

Capasso noted that, for some younger inmates, the detention center’s programs are the first encounter they have with balancing a checkbook or learning the basics of everyday adult life in society.

“This place is full of opportunity, and we’ve seen that grow throughout the years,” he said. “It’s not fluff, these are programs the inmate population genuinely benefits from.”

Though inmates sentenced to 18 months or more in prison serve their time at a state or federal institution, the detention center is still a temporary home to many individuals either alleged or convicted of committing a wide variety of crimes. From minimum- to maximum-security, all ages and races are represented.

According to statistics collected by the detention center for participation in a re-entry program, in 2010:

–86 percent of the inmate population is male
–58 percent is white
–67 percent is single
–the average inmate age is 32
–39 percent of those arrested are employed
–60 percent have a high school education
–58 percent are serving time on a sentence, as opposed to awaiting trial
–the average sentence is six months
–the most common charge is possession of a controlled dangerous substance, followed by second-degree assault and driving under the influence

Later, I note the mix and variety of inmates to Capasso. He said that the crimes they’re imprisoned for are equally diverse, and not limited to the usual small-town misdemeanors.

“The inmate population no longer consists primarily of those who failed to show up to a hearing or got into a fight at the local gin mill,” he said.

“Not only have the numbers [of inmates] quadrupled, but the brand of inmate has grown to worsen,” he said. “No one’s thinking of new crimes, there’s just more of them.”

It’s a new challenge for the corrections officers assigned to guard them, guard them from each other, and help transition the willing back into society.

NEXT: Part II, featuring a look at the duties of the corrections officers, and thoughts from Sheriff Jesse Bane.


  1. goodlittle sheep says

    That first pic looks like the health club I can no longer afford to be a member of.

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  2. pizzle says

    Thanks for that interesting look inside the detention center. I’ve always wondered what it was like on the inside. When I heard of the detention center’s expansion, the first thing that came to mind was “it’s just like building more roads to handle traffic…..the more you build the worse the traffic gets”. So, what are we saying as a society when we need to look at expanding our detention center to meet “demand”? It’s really a sad state of affairs we’re in today.

    One thing I’m not sure I agree with is the playing of video games! What sort of “punishment” is that?!? Being sent to the detention center should leave one feeling like there’s no way in hell they’d ever want to return once released, not because it was violent or because they were mistreated, but rather because they were deprived of the things that they had access to when NOT IN JAIL! I’m not sure playing games and watching television help in that regard.

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    • JK says

      There are no video games at the jail. I don’t know what this article is referring to. The only electronic devices inmates have access to are televisions that are bolted to the wall.

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  3. MoreRacismProof says

    I would like to thank the writer of this article that just pretty much sums up the Racism here in Harford County! Look at the statistics, 58% white that means 42% are of minority descent, which we will say is 98% black. How can you have 42% of your jail filled with african americans with a population that only has 12% african american in the entire county? It is because the Sheriff’s Department is Racist! They single out blacks and harrass us, many times arresting us on suspicion, not proof! There is your Racism Proof from the detention centers own records! Read it and weep…….

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    • says

      @Moreracismproof. Sheriff Bane received an overwhelming majority of the African American vote in the Nov 2010, election, thus providing him another four years as Sheriff. If he is the leader of such a racists organization, why does the black community continue to overwhelming support him?

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    • Concerned Citizen says

      Could it be that that 12% commits that much more crime? Check the numbers in other municipalities and states. Very interesting. Crime is crime, and skin color is irrelevant! Thanks to the Sheriff’s department for arresting ANYONE, ANY COLOR, ANY NATIONALITY, that’s breaking U.S. laws.

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      • Watcher says

        As usual, just another way of rationalizing the racism that is occurring. Typical white republican comment……

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    • Concerned Citizen says

      Could it be that that 12% commits that much more crime? Check the numbers in other municipalities and states. Very interesting. Crime is crime, and skin color is irrelevant! Thanks to the Sheriff’s department for arresting ANYONE, ANY COLOR, ANY NATIONALITY, that’s breaking U.S. laws.

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      • Watcher says

        Yet they didn’t arrest Mimi Cooper for her multiple DWI’s! How about the sheriff’s deputy that had police chase him for two counties when he was joyriding his motorcycle at 150mph? Whatever happened to his conviction? He is still working for the Sheriff’s Department at HCDC I believe! Was it that they were white, or just part of an elitist circle? Please explain why they were above the law…….

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          • cved says

            I remeber reading about an incident involving Mrs. Cooper trying to intimidate police after being pulled over for suspicion of DUI. the article had to be in the AEGIS as this is the only paper I subscribe to. It was probably a while ago. I looked on the Aegis website and they do not have a search option I could find to scan their past articles. I doknow that if there is a record of this incident it would be on her driving record, which I have no legal reason to look up. You can easily search and find her Conviction in Virginia for 19 mph above the speed limit and the fact that she has another case pending in Baltimore County for speeding at approximately the same speed as her Virginia conviction. For a hanging judge she sure likes to break the law even if it is just speeding. I would expect better from someone with her hard interpretation of law.

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        • tickle says

          @ Watcher, you are correct. Ms. Cooper is a sitting District Court Judge with not one but two arrest’s for DUI. I’m not certain of the outcome, however she was arrested for them. And I can assure you that she didn’t do any weekends, or I bet she never sat in a cell. Most likely she was taken in, finger printed, mug shot and then taken directly to the commissioner. From the writer of this articles own admittance, one who is not intoxicated sees the commissioner. those that are , are kept in a holding cell for a certain period of time.

          I for one am white, lived here my whole life, am a Republican and a personal friend of Sheriff Bane. I always wondered when Judge Cooper does hand down harsh sentences for DUI or possession, no one speaks up to her or questions her about her own arrest. It is most likely that they fear longer sentences and/or retaliation.

          As far as fair goes, as with anyone with an arrest or conviction on there record, good luck getting a job at WAWA. As for Ms. Cooper, she does seem to be above the law. She should have been forced to resign and never be allowed to sit and judge others who committed the same crime as she did, but she got away with it

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          • tickle says

            I stand corrected, she was not arrested. She does have 2 stops for DUI suspicion, but as far as anything happening to her, nothing! Goes to show, it’s what you are and who you know

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  4. Malcolmxlax says

    That is not where they keep black people at the jail! I’ve been there, I know! Why don’t you go back to the jail and ask to see where they keep the black folk at in jail. In order to be housed in one of those pods you have to be either white, female, a rat, a homo or on meds. Show the real jail and don’t let them tell you different! Ask for pods F,G or H and you’ll see how the darker half of Harford County is treated. This article is nothing but propaganda for the Sheriff’s Department! Remember me Warden Dehaven, I’m an intigen………..

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    • B says

      Yea, they have a pit in the back where you only get running water when it rains and that’s where they keep all the law abiding black folks who got arrested because they have darker pigment than the chosen race and not because they committed a crime, right?

      Dumbass. There are black people in every area of the jail whether it’s the blocks, the dorms, one of the DSU’s or lower level. Keep taking that xlax, Malcolm….maybe it’ll clean you out.

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      • says

        Yeah they have blacks all over the jail but u only see maybe 2 or 3 blacks in the dorms that they show which is r and s dorm but truth be told goto e,f,g,h,j,and k u might have 2 white boys in there they treat u like s**t and u don’t get fed like the others f**k harford co. detention center u never been there so u don’t know what happends in there and if u were to end up in there and im there ima take ur food cause i’ll be so damn hungry!

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        • Disgusted says

          I have a novel idea, Kusan. If you feel the conditions of HCDC are so bad, stop doing the things that put you there.

          Take his criticisms with a grain of salt, everyone. The word of a fraud, drug dealer that has been caught with an illegally concealed weapon doesn’t carry much weight. With a unique name like Kusan Hines, finding out about his past on MD Case Search is not difficult. BTW, pay your child support.

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          • twocold says

            Disgusted, I am disgusted with your comments. Why not listen to someone who has inside knowledge and not debate a criminal record. He wasn’t hiding his identity and told the truth. I respect that.

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        • B says

          Actually I used to work there before transferring to the road so I know what I’m talking about. R and S are DSU units and when I worked there there were plenty of blacks in them and the dorms were probably around 50/50.

          In any case, if you thinks it sucks so much then try not being a criminal so you don’t end up in there again. It’s not that difficult to avoid committing crimes.

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          • ProudBlackMale says

            B, as usual you bend the truth towards the side of the police. What Kusan says is true and you know it. The whole pack of you sheriffs are racist. Blacks don’t get put in them dorms like the white boys and we never will. The few you are referring to either are on meds or are gay or something. Why lie about it? From the sounds of all these commenters on here its all right to be racist and discriminate as long as the person is in jail. So why lie? Just tell the truth, the rest of the forum is behind you. The rest of Harford County is behind you, at least that is what the commenters are saying. Just say it. You wish you could just get rid of each and every one of us.

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          • B says

            I’ll never convince you or those who think like you so I’m not really going to bother. You see the uniform, claim we’re all racist, and that’s the end of the debate for you. You’re wrong, and that’s a fact.

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    • says

      yeah alot of us do get into s**t but there are alot of us that don’t and those are the ones that get f**ked wit by the police i never see them f**k wit the whites like they f**k wit us and yall are worst than us yall touch lil kids and sh*t and only get6 months or maybe a year but let a black guy get caught with a 10 dollar bag of drugs and he gets 10 years come on now if that not backwards and racist u tell me what is!!

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    • Sheep says

      Roger you are delusional. The Blacks get caught because our racist police force is looking for them to committ a crime. They have to stumble into a white person committing a crime because they aren’t looking for it…..White people do things wrong to. They are just treated differently.

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  5. JD says

    The saddest part of this article is the fact that most of the people in this detention center are there for drug related ‘offenses’. In the few weekends I spent there over a possession of cannabis charge, I only met three others that were there for something other than DUI or CDS possession. If we didn’t have to house these people (those there for simple possession crimes) we wouldn’t have to expand the jail and could instead use our tax money for something other than privatized incarceration.

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    • B says

      Generally people only get sentenced to weekends if they’re convicted of minor possession charges (and usually they have multiple convictions) or have multiple DUI’s and they aren’t socializing with the rest of the inmate population so I’m not surprised if you only did a few weekends and only met three people who weren’t in on one of those those two charges.

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  6. David A. Porter says

    How can anyone say that increasing the size of the detention center allows for more crime? Isn’t that the analogy the first author used in his article where he compared it to increasing roads leading to increasing traffic? That’s like suggesting the egg laid the chicken. An increase of 300 cells for inmates is probably not enough (just like the roads around here) for the number of people that are now “using” them in this much larger county (than many people here seem to grasp). Each time I look at a MD Case Search result and see the state attorney offer “Nolle Prosequi” it means he didn’t feel the need to prosecute someone, either because they did not have the evidence, or maybe because they are performing triage and deciding which inmates they can afford to house.

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  7. Someone who knows says

    It’s the tuffest job in the criminal justice system it has never been fully staffed. The drug thugs and bangers keep it full all the time. Check the state prison stats the population at doc is 80% black it’s a fact. Check with the courts and the people that sit on juryies before you cry foul. The people of this county should show much respect to the hard working men and women at the HCDC. You will never know the he’ll they walk through 24/7!

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    • Sheep says

      Right, and I have some beachfront property in Arizona for sale if you are interested……

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    • twocold says

      I’m sure it is tough to decide when to let go the taser trigger so u guys don’t kill another defenseless inmate!

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      • twocold says

        Very well said! I have no respect for anyone that uses weapons on defenseless people. Even if they are inmates! Wake up Harford County, see what the buzz is all about. Its racism Harford County style. You get arrested by racists for being black, you get convicted by a racist judge, a racist State’s Attorney Office and a Public Defender whose main goal is to help the state get a conviction, and then you get jailed by more Racists that taunt and deprive you the entire time. The real crime is all the money you guys make for keeping us in jail. Its a vicious cycle that can only be described as Racism in Harford County!

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        • B says

          Defenseless people? Right. Tell that to all the police officers (or their families) who have been seriously assaulted and murdered by so-called “defenseless people” over the years.

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        • says

          @ TWOCOLD. So why does the African American community in Harford County continue to overwhelmingly vote in support of the people who head up these racist organizations in Harford County.

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    • tickle says

      That place is full of fat, overweight and out of shape douche bags that couldn’t make the cut to the real department, or were taken out of the department and sent to HDC because of weight issues. Honestly , that place is a joke. I have friends who told me they were denied medical service or treatment. People who were doing weekend time for DUI who needed BP medication to be specific.

      There is always shady things going on at HCDC, and it will never change.

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  8. King of Common Sense says

    Despite his apparent distaste, Kusan Hines is one of the most frequent visitors….with extensive help from an editor he could have given you all the information you need for the article. There are certainly no video games of any kind in our facility but if you are looking for them then you should check a state facility. The Department of Corrections where the “real criminals” go has just about every luxury you could possibly think of on the street.

    For those crying racism, you should see how many of the sentenced people are there because they plead guilty to the crime. Only a select few people ever go to trial, they take a deal during the pre-trial conference. So the vast majority of both the white and black people are there because they admitted to committing the crimes.

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    • Watcher says

      Convictions are being extorted out of the black males of Harford County by our illegal State’s Attorney Office and the Public Defender’s Office. The judge’s approve.

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      • BA says

        So they’re being forced at trial to plead guilty? Last I checked, a person has the right to plead not guilty.

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        • watcher says

          Defendants are being threatened by the State’s Attorney Office to take plea bargains or face greater time if they don’t cop to the deal. Most of the inmates get tired of being in jail and cop to plea bargains as a way out of jail. Doesn’t mean they are guilty, they are literally forced by the State’s Attorney office to take their deals. This would not happen if the Public Defender’s office would file the Hick’s Motion for a speedy trial which they are intentionally not filing. No one, I repeat NO ONE should be incarcerated for more than six months without having a trial. You have inmates at HCDC, whose rights have been trampled upon, who have been incarcerated for over a year with no trial. The State’s Attorney Office is illegally using Administrative Postponements to advert the natural legal process and keep defendants locked up for illegal amounts of time without having a trial. These cases should be dismissed but the lack of legal ethics in the Harford County Judiciary system allows for the defendant’s ongoing continuation of incarceration usually resulting in a conviction for the state. In layman’s terms, they are locking people up, not giving them a speedy trial, denying any possibility of reasonable bail, keeping them incarcerated until they finally take the deal that the Harford County State’s Attorney office wants them to take. Sad part is, the Public defender’s Office is working with the State’s Attorneys Office to get convictions, which means that Harford County is not providing effective legal counsel for those who can not afford it. That is illegal too, but a different issue that should be taken up ASAP. Yes, illegal convictions in Harford County are happening everyday with the approval of Judge Carr, Judge Eaves and Judge Marshall. Also, Judge Marshall is signing illegal warrants where he knows that probable cause was obtained by illegal methods of investigation by the Harford County Sheriff’s Department. Most of the illegal tactics have been aimed at the black population that can not afford the greedy lawyers of our county. And BA, yes, they are making alot of money off of this scheme………

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          • DW says

            I keep this argument that they are making all this money off illegally convicting the black man and keeping him prison, etc.

            Who exactly are they making money off of? By your own admission it’s poor black men who can’t afford a lawyer who are supposedly be targeted. No one’s making any money having them locked up for months or years.

            Judges don’t get a bonus for handing down convictions. State’s Attorney’s don’t get a bonus for getting more guilty pleas. Public Defenders don’t get a bonus for convincing their supposedly innocent clients to take guilty pleas. Police officers don’t get a bonus for arresting people other than maybe some OT for court, which most deputies just go on call for now that we have a court liaison officer unless it’s going to be a trial (which means they aren’t getting paid OT.) Since the beginning of the year I’ve actually had to go to court maybe twice (counting an MVA hearing for a DUI case) despite having literally dozens of summonses for criminal cases.

            So who exactly is “they” who are making all this money off arresting the poor black man who has no money and where is it coming from?

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          • Watcher says

            The money that I am referring to is the money that is being defrauded by the federal and state government that is allocated to any detention facility for the detainee being incarcerated. The reason I used the term defrauded is because of all the illegal convictions used to obtain this money. But, you already knew that……

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  9. taxpayer says

    I am so sick and tired of hearing blacks this and blacks that get a job and do not get into trouble and you will not go to jail be an a$#@hole and a bum then you go to jail you are the ones who are racist get a life!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 13
  10. regularguyharford says

    The new Detention Center looks great. Perhaps this will be a wakeup call for white/black/other race criminals to stop dealing drugs, stop committing violent crimes, and to stop joining gangs.

    I hope our county leaders finally have done away with free weights at these places. Give inmates books and the means to educate themselves, and skills so they can return to society to be law-abiding, productive folk instead of physically fit thugs.

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  11. king of common sense says

    There are no “free weights” only structured machines and a basketball court, also there are plenty of books available. However, the majority of the books that the inmates requested are the triple-crown books that are based on drug dealing, pimping, hustling, etc. The programs that are available are excellent programs but are only as effective as the people taking them allow them to be. Most of them ask, “what is the minimum I have to do in order to get my credited days off?” As for the black/white ratio in the pods they are talking about, one of them is stereotyped as a “PC” dorm and a lot of the black population requests not to go there. One of the others is a female area so I think it is obvious why black males can’t go there. The last is the work release dorm, if you have a job on the outside of the jail that meets the legal qualifications and the judge grants you work release eligibility then you will go to that dorm.

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  12. Peter says

    “–the most common charge is possession of a controlled dangerous substance”

    What a surprise. End the drug war.

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  13. says

    Kusan Hines claims that the Harford County Sheriffs Office is a racist organization. An organization led by Sheriff Bane.

    Others have claimed in previous posts that Judge Eaves (an African American) is also racist. Judge Eaves was appointed by Governor O’Mally who, I suspect, they would allege is also racist.

    Both Sheriff Bane and Governor O’Mally were overwhelmingly supported by the African American community.

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    • WhoSmellsJumpsteady says

      While Kusan despises the philosophy of being institutionalized, he is respectful to the CO’s. Sure he has made some bad life decisions, and his posts have shown us his inner hatred for police and correctional professionals, but I suspect that it is easier to claim racism than to own up to his inability to use good judgment.

      To all the others that jumped on Kusan’s bandwagon, the numbers don’t lie however you put a spin on them, 58 > 42. African Americans are not the only minorities represented in the percentage of non Caucasians. The crime rate involving Hispanics has steadily increased over the last 10 or so years. I could be wrong but I attribute that to the decriminalization of being an illegal alien. More illegal’s = more crime among that classification of ethnicity.

      Mr. Cahall, very nice article despite your misunderstanding of what you saw. Most inmates have access to TV’s. Some areas have access to a satellite receiver that allows them to access the 6 or so non local TV channels. The only games in jail are board games and cards, as seen in your photos. Hopefully in part two of your article you will ask questions if you hear or observe something that you don’t understand. I’m not questioning your integrity, but you can clearly see by the posts that you have incited the general public, who in turn have probably been calling the Sheriff all day.

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  14. Bythebookx says

    Some of you people are instigators with too much free time on your hands. The inmates here are treated well and have decent amenities and a new facility. Enough already with your aspersions about racist State’s Attorneys, Judges and Deputies. Its getting old and annoying when you whine just because you want to exercise your 1st Amendment free speach.

    I hate to dispell the myth for ya, there is no grand conspiracy to convict any one particular race. Criminals come in all sizes and shapes, and know no racial boundaries.

    Wake up, accept that the overwhelming majority of criminals do commit the crimes they are convicted of…its all about CHOICES they made. Its called personal responsibility – they lack it. Nothing racists about these comments.

    I wish all my fellow Dagger readers well.

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    • watcher says

      The same can be said about you having too much free time. Its a shame that so many of the DAGGER’s supposed readers are for the illegal treatment of African Americans and everyone else that you deem is a criminal. I am for the legal process, but I know that its impossible to get a fair shake in Harford County. Illegal convictions and the farming of human beings for profit is what is actually going on here.

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    • Auditor says

      Whydo you keep changing your screen name? You are also known as 5-0inthehood……

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  15. wendall says

    You know, you can look back in the archives of the dagger and see where claims of racism in harford country have been happenin for a long time. Thes claims have been posted by many daggerreaders. People are starting to see the true problem in this county.

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    • HappyFincamperBelAir says


      Do you believe in UFO’s and aliens conducting anal probing? Do you think Oswald had the Mafia or Cuban ties in the Kennedy Assasination? Do you think Amelia Earheart was shot down by the Japanese? Do you think the 911 terrorist acts were a hoax created by the Gov’t? Do you think the CIA is responsible for the crack epidemic? There must be more BS conspiracies to screw with you about. Please do not confuse the Dagger with anything factual…most of this stuff is pure crapola. The archives of the Dagger are just like a giant cesspool of people’s opinions, not facts.

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      • HappyFincamperBelAir says


        Are you talking to me? If so, kiss my not yet retired posterior. You are the classic example of an F’in Blowhard. Keep propping up the status quo of low budget, uneducated crap that earns frequent flier miles and free upgrades @ the detention center, keep feeding the myth of conspiracies and remind people that personal responsibility and being held accountable for one’s actions is wrong and racist. You are so off-base and odd.

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        • says

          @Happyfincamper. I’m talking to Wendall. That’s why my post was addressed to Wendall. In my opinion Wendall and others of his ilk are blowhards. Talking crap and unable to back up their accusations with fact.

          Read my posts on this thread. I am not a fan of the Kusan Hines, Wendall, Toocold etc..

          Did you think what you had to say qualified you as a blowhard? Maybe a crazy rant, but blowhard…Naw!!

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      • Auditor says

        Wasn’t it you that recommended that the readers claiming discrimination go and pickett and protest, knowing that they would be arrested. If the Police will arrest people for demonstrating against abortion, don’t you think they would get arrested for demonstrating against the racism in our courts, police force and corrupt State’s Attorney Office?

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        • says

          @Auditor. It was indeed me that recommended they go picket and demonstrate with signs etc.. Those arrested at the anti abortion demonstration have been vindicated, and will be paid by Harford County for the illegal acts committed by HCSO.

          That said, my point to those who allege rampant racism was; don’t just talk about it on this blog. If you really believe it, go and do something about it. If it is as bad as many who comment on the Dagger say it is then where are all of the black organizations that specialize in addressing such issues.

          Sheriff Bane has overwhelming support in the African American community. Why would the black community support a person who leads such a racist organization. Truth is, they wouldn’t if all of these outlandish claims were true, but they are not true, and that is why Sheriff Bane has the African American community support.

          African Americans don’t want criminals in their midst, anymore than any other community. And believe me, those in the black community know who the criminals are. The law abiding citizens want the criminal element removed the same as all communities. That’s why they call the police and report the criminals.

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  16. Bryan Mulligan says

    I am also growing sick of all the racial crap on here. Only things is over the past 6 or 7 months I’ve seen proof displayed on the Dagger by the people who are claiming racism. That Robinson article had some guy on there that actually gave you a map to follow and see racism in our county. If there isn’t any racism going on, prove it. That would shut this whole race thing down. Until then, I’m left with proof that it does exist, even in our police force and courts, which turns my stomach.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2
  17. Bythebookx says

    The accuser is the one who needs to provide proof. Anything other is contrary to our Justice System as it currently exists.

    For those who love to stir the pot or make spurious allegations, please provide specific examples beyond the old “my friend XXXX told me…..,” or that you “searched Maryland Judiciary Case Search and found…..”

    How about going to the Circuit Court, getting copies of convictions. These will show the statements of facts that these so-called innocent friends have agreed are true and pleaded guilty as a result. Ask the guilty parties why they would plead guilty if the statement of facts is false?

    I will concede that in every occupation and organization, there are dishonest folks, racists, etc….If you have one or two specific examples in mind, don’t waste your time here, contact the State Police, FBI or any real investigative authority who can conduct integrity investigations.

    I am done, deep fried and tired of this. I wish you all well.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9
  18. Bryan Mulligan says

    As stated before, thepeople that are claiming racism have already shown the proof. Go reread the Robinson Discrimination article’s comments. Please, show me the proof that this is all just a myth…….

    Well-loved. Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2
    • DW says

      I wouldn’t consider what anonymous people post on the dagger as being proof of anything, especially when their “research” consists of browsing MD case search without having access to any police reports, statements of charges, prior criminal history of the defendants, what area and assignments the officers were working, etc. Oh yea, I almost forgot the links to some pothead website’s msg board which then just referenced the same information that was being posted here (and even better…I’m pretty sure that the person posting the links to that msg board was posting links to his own posts on that website…that’s credible…)

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8
  19. anon says

    I sat in a No Kohl’s in Forest Hill meeting where one of the organizers stated that his reason for the protest was because if we expand big-box retail, the next thing to come will be public transportation for retail workers and that will ultimately make it too easy for undesirable people to have easy access to our neighborhoods up here. His socio-economic thinking was close enough to blatant racism that I was offended and walked out. It was a public meeting, I’m sure others can clarify what they hear if you immediately disregard me for not signing my name.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1
    • facereality says

      That does suck. Sorry to hear that ignorant people are everywhere. What exactly does this have to do with the aforementioned detention center story? NOTHING.

      “That Robinson article had some guy on there that actually gave you a map to follow and see racism in our county. If there isn’t any racism going on, prove it.”
      If you make an accusation, it is your job to offer proof. The alleged “map” you refer to was crap, everyone saw that. How have you determined that racism exists in the county government/law enforcement?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9
      • says

        wow..I have read the article and all of the comments. Interesting county we live in. I grew up here and have always loved it. However, the more I live…I clearly see that ignorance, small mindedness, sexism and racism are alive and well in this county. I have associates from the top of the food chain on down to the bottom. The truth is as stated earlier, there is good and bad in all of us. The Sheriff’s department surely has fine men and women working for them. I have also experienced physical abuse from a police man, film editing to cut that out, taunting, mocking, laughing as I was crying..”boo hoo” said a cop to me. I tried to call my attorney, who also happened to be a relative and he was not able to get back in a timely fashion. A Jarrettsville precinct police woman said “Awe how sad your cousin must not love you he isn’t calling you back” Bizarre..nasty and hateful people wherever you go. As far as the detention center, trust me the inmates I could take..the workers treat people like animals. The people detox from drugs, 20 women share one toilet that one must drape a sheet for privacy. Inhumane, substandard like a third world country, filth and disgusting conditions in dorm E. I asked for an exercise tape everyday for 10 days straight, never got it. I was not allowed to go to any activities and saw maybe a couple of people who did go. Our system is not working. Many of the inmates knew one another from the streets. They were able to bring drugs in and conceal them in body cavities. These same kids have been in and out of that place 3 and 4 times. I was treated well by some and not so well by others. The bottom line, I committed a crime of a
        Dui .10 …truly two glasses of Merlot. That horrible mistake cost me so much of my life. I suffered public humiliation at the cost of journalism for nosey people. My children suffered and certainly my lesson learned at a very high price. I reached somewhere deep inside my soul where i have never been to endure my time in jail. I rose above my own troubles and tried to help many of the poor souls in that place. They are people who are drinking and using to cover pain in their life. The Harford County Detention Center does not rehabilitate or change behaviors for most of those people. The system is almost set up for them to fail. They violate probation and are thrown back in there. So much pain and suffering in this world and drugs are killing our kids. I fear for the them growing up in these times. And Sheriff Bane I believe you need to talk to the inmates more.

        Well-loved. Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  20. Regulardude says

    Does anyone think a county detention center has the means to truly “rehabilitate” criminals? This is a temporary lodging station, anyone with a lengthy period of incarceration is going to be turned over to the DOC – Dept. of Corrections, who administer theses types of programs. Most people in HCDC are out in months on average.

    Stop blaming police, the courts, and anyone else for your troubles. Our justice system does work, albeit with a few screw ups annually. So many people who were arrested made a choice to committ the crimes they were ultimately convicted of. Police do not, repeat, do not just lock people up routinely for ZERO reason.

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    • says

      That is why it’s called the Detention Center, not the Rehabilitation Center. True rehabilitative programs cannot be completed for the most part during the time spent in the HCDC. However, programs could be started in the HCDC, and continued after release as a condition of probation. These programs could perhaps have positive results, and prove cost effective. Such programs would require the cooperation of the courts in sentencing to be effective.

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    • says

      Regular Dude,
      Interesting play on words. Sounds like you have intimate knowlege of this case. Stop blaming as if??? We all know that many Harford County entities are corrupt and filled with liars and cheaters. Those very people are the ones judging, being self righteous and hypocritical. People who are very immoral are in places of power. I can sleep well at night…the ploblem is those who are so unjust and feel a need to “put people in their place”, are the very ones whose road to demise is already paved! Have a nice day

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  21. HarshReality says

    I am wondering at what point does the person who commits a crime becomes the victim. Apparently according to HUMBLED as soon as the violator is incarcerated they are now a victim. No one forces the people inside those walls to commit their crimes. If I get a ticket for speeding and I know I was speeding I don’t blame the cop who pulled me over. It was my fault for speeding so if I get caught I pay the price. “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time” The doors on the detention center should be revolving ones. Despite how bad violators think it is in there they keep going back expecting it to be different.. Dumbasses!!! Nobody said criminal were smart. However they do know how to complain. If only there were a college degree for bitching, everybody in there would have a PhD.. Keep doing what your doing and you’ll keep getting what your getting.

    If people WANT to change they need to want to change. Jail is not the place to do it. I doubt all the people that want to be helped in jail wanted to be helped outside of it. Get real?? All of a sudden it’s poor me when our behind bars. The best way to beat the system is not to get in it.

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  22. says

    Harsh Reality,
    I am telling you that people are treated like animals and they accept it and get used to it. I suppose that is acceptable to you considering they have committed crimes. This is an example of the “ignorance” that is so prevalent in our world…..”kick em while they’re down and maybe they will learn”…unreal! You can’t change people’s core beliefs when they think they know it ALL!

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  23. MJ says

    Let Me be the first to say I have read this article today on HCDC and the comments by Kusan Hines Who I know personally. In addition I once was incarcerated in HCDC and have since moved on to better myself for the sake of my family. Let me be the first to say that there is a problem in Harford County’s justice system. The state does offer “plea” deals to get there conviction rate up. In addition you are placed on Probation (For Judge Marshall it is 5yrs) for a period of 1-5years. with conditions that are unreasonable and unethical. condition #1 Obey all laws that’s a given. Condition #2 Maintain gainful employment. How can you do that with a record. Attend classes, complete Community work service, See your probation officer 1 time per week. It is virtually impossible not to get violated. How is it that a State will go crazy if a father doesn’t pay child support for 1 month, but the mother can violate court orders and nothing happens? Why is it that in Havre De Grace, Aberdeen, Edgewood in your predominantly “Black neighborhoods” You’ve got these sub police stations yet in these same areas we have the most crime.WHY? Let me spell it out to you. Person gets a traffic violation or disorderly conduct, can’t get a job because of their record, resorts to means of survival to keep the law off their back. SNITCHES cutting deals with the state to get off a charge which gets someone else jammed up. Now Harford County gets another conviction under their belt and police, Judges, State’s Attorneys, Public Defenders, Lawyers keep there jobs because of it. I recall a classmate of Mine Tenaco Wesley has a lifetime conviction for a charge that he didn’t do and all the evidence the state had was a WIRETAP placed by the state as a part of a plea deal and Tenaco is in Jail for LIFE! I had a detail in HCDC hall trustee and I had to clean up grown man feces from D Block. No you don’t get fed well there, Your sleeping conditions are horrible, you are treated like an animal. The officers don’t care about you. You may get lucky and get a good bible study group in and they’ll help you. The problem with HCDC is that you need to let former inmates come in and talk to these kids and young inmates and tell their story and this will deter crime and lead them on a new path. I had to leave Maryland and get a better life for myself in order to be a better person. Had I stayed in Harford County at that time I’d been locked up for life because HCDC is not rehabilitation. It will only cause you to continue to break the law. most of the inmate population is VIOLATION OF PROBATION. If probation is to rehabilitate why are the same people getting locked up. I’ll tell you what I tell My Son HCDC expanded again to make room for you. You have the choice If you can’t respect your parents and those that have authority over you and follow their directions than you’ll end up there. Believe me I know. Let’s try to use our experiences and teach the community hoe to be successful.

    Peace and Blessings

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  24. Bill Paxton says

    Cool Story Bro…..

    The best message in your wall of words is: “You have the choice If you can’t respect your parents and those that have authority over you and follow their directions than you’ll end up there. Believe me I know. Let’s try to use our experiences and teach the community hoe to be successful.”

    You hit the nail on the head by stating that you are not rehabilitated in the HCDC. That’s not to say there aren’t opportunities for the inmates. There is a wide variety of programs for you to choose from, to include Bible Study, as you previously stated. The programs provide the tools, it’s up to the individual to put them to work. Rehabilitation comes from within first. Jail shouldn’t be a college for criminals to better their craft. The Detention Center is, in part, a temporary holding facility for pretrial inmates, and a place of confinement for up to eighteen months of incarceration. Any person expecting to achieve total personal social reform in as little as eighteen months is going about it all wrong.

    I’m pretty sure as a hall trustee you were treated well. You mentioned having to clean feces off of the walls and floor in a housing area. The walls and floors that the officers tour while conducting their tours? When people behave as animals, should they be treated any different? Unfortunately, the Officers must be the better person, a consummate professional. This is their career choice. The C.O.’s choose to work in this type of environment because they either truly want to have a positive impact on the inmates, are answering to God’s calling, and some just need a job, however the first two greatly out way the later. I would venture to say that more officer’s treated you with respect and dignity than not. the C.O’s have a difficult job, maintaining custody of violent offenders, people who don’t want to be incarcerated, and people with mental illness.

    When a citizen decides to step away from social norms, and breaks the law for their own personal self indulgence, what should the level of expectations, and sense of entitlements be while residing at the detention center? Food, Shelter, Programs, Protection From Abuse, Medical Treatment, Psych Services are a given….all provided to you at the expense of law abiding taxpayers.

    I’m glad you are doing well, and hope to never meet your children.

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  25. KingofCommonSense says

    Waylon Tonoco Wesley drove around with his friend bragging about the murder, specifically stating the number of times he shot one of the female clerks. This conversation was recorded and played in court. While it is good that you have turned your life around, it is clear that a lot of the typical jailhouse mentalities are not completely gone aka “stop snitching” and “the county is keeping us here for profit and trying to hold us down” etc. As a factual matter about the HCDC rehabilitating, we do what we can but there is a very specific reason the DOC is called the department of CORRECTIONS, because they are designed to correct people. We are called the DETENTION center because we are designed to detain people until it is determined that they need correction either at a mental health facility or DOC. We offer programs that are specifically targeted at short timers that for a lack of better explanation, require less correcting. HCDC has never and will never be a place to seek a major life turn around.

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