Poplar Hill allegedly closing
Poplar Hill Pre-Release Unit in Quantico, Md could be closing it's doors as soon as next week according to reports confirmed 47 ABC. The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services allegedly met with Eastern Correctional Institution about shutting down Poplar Hill Thursday.
An employee at Poplar Hill contacted 47 ABC with the news after they had allegedly got word of the closure from the warden.
"(He) pretty much said that Poplar Hill will be closing and the move, when it happens, will happen quickly," the whistleblower said.
The information was put forward by the whistle blower who wants the story out with hopes the information will change the plans that may already be in motion.
"The public needs to call their legislators and call Moyer, Hogan to have it stopped," the whistle blower said.
The whistleblower is referring to Gov. Larry Hogan and secretary of the DPSCS Stephen Moyer. So far this year Moyer has already made two trips to the Eastern Shore in hopes of solving the staffing problem at ECI.
Two job fairs have been held, but as of last month the DPSCS said they were down 50 correctional officers.
"We didn't have a real successful recruitment. One of our employees made a suggestion that we need to be in the parking lot at Wal-Mart and that's where we're doing the recruitment fair," Moyer told 47 ABC in June prior to the second job fair.
The lack of staff means correctional officers have to work mandatory overtime at ECI to fill the shifts. The whistleblower said the Poplar Hill move may be a partial solution. The warden of the pre-release unit allegedly told staff if they close they would be sent to ECI to help with that shortage, moving the pre-release unit to the ECI annex.
But those employees may not go.
"A lot of them are considering retiring, you know going elsewhere they're saying their shifts are going to change now, their hours are going to change and they don't want to go back to the compound," the whistleblower said.
Inmates at Poplar Hill are also allegedly worried about the potential move fearing for their safety.
"It's like a punishment to them and also the fear that you know, minimum security at the annex there are assaults and they're afraid that they're going to get intermingled with them and they'll be assaulted," the whistleblower said.
Since news broke of the potential move last week the whistleblower tells 47 ABC morale has been low among staff at the unit.
"They're a very tight knit family and this move has put a bad taste in their mouth," the whistleblower said.
Salisbury Mayor Jake Day said if the Poplar Hill Pre-Release Unit is actually going to be moved to ECI that he will try and lobby the DPSCS to change their mind.
47 ABC reached out to DPSCS throughout the day on Thursday trying to confirm the reports, however our calls were not returned.
47 ABC also reached out to Sen. Addie Eckardt (R) about the matter. Eckardt said she had not heard of the plans to close Poplar Hill. Eckardt did say that she had previous discussions with Moyer about the staffing issues at ECI and said she knew DPSCS was doing everything in their power to make sure those positions could be filled as soon as possible. Eckardt adding safety was Moyer's top concern.