BALTIMORE – We left the fantasy island of modern finance today. We had to take our pick-up truck in for repairs. The dealers all seem to be in East Baltimore… or east of Baltimore… so we drove out of Mulberry Street to Pulaski Highway and finally over to Merritt Boulevard.
Just three blocks east of our office, in the Mt. Vernon district, a different world begins. The first indication of it is the old stone prison at the bottom of the hill, first commissioned in 1801. For more than 200 years, Baltimore’s jail has been a disgrace to the city and its correctional efforts. Overcrowded. Filthy. Degenerate.
The critical reports go back almost to the day it was built. Back then, as many as half the prisoners were there for failing to pay their debts. (Today, a similar percentage is there for drug crimes. How times have changed! Now, you can stiff your creditors all you want. But watch out. Don’t take drugs. IT’S THE LAW.)
But the most recent scandal must top them all…
In the 1970s, Baltimore began employing women to police the men in the prison. Then, in 2013, the U.S. Attorney’s Office indicted 44 people, including 27 employees of the prison… and some inmates, too… on charges including racketeering, conspiracy, drugs, and money laundering. But the crème de la crème of the indictment concerned Mr. Tavon White, prisoner and ringleader of the Black Guerrilla Family.
First, he earned, while a prisoner, as much as $16,000 a month from drugs and contraband. Second, it turns out that, since 2009, he had also fathered five children with four of the female guards – two of whom had his name tattooed on their bodies. Mr. White was convicted and sentenced to another 15 years in the can. We will continue with a description of our drive across Baltimore in a moment. First, a bit of news.