Justice Reinvestment Oversight Board

August 28, 2017
Crownsville, MD

Twenty-Six Members of the Oversight Board were present: Devenyns (Talbot), Parker (DLLR), Brewster (Wicomico), Butler (State Police), Davic (Baltimore Police), Bazron (DHMH), Toins-Banks, Kokolis (Anne Arundel), Green (LGRIC), Brinkley (Budget), Dumais (House), Morrissey (Chief Justice), Janet Lane (Director, JRI), Judge Long (Chair, JROB), Fuston (GOCCP), Chan (Anne Arundel), Judge Cox (Balto County), Hough (Senate), Shellenberger (State Atty, BCo), Dewees (Police), Goins-Johnson (PSCS), DeWolfe (OPD), Franklin (Md Assoc Counties), Greene (Parole Commissioner), Eppler (OAG), Butler (Victims)

Janet Lane, the new director of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP), was introduced. She gave a brief identification of meetings held recently on Justice Reinvestment: Advisory Board, Baltimore Behavioral Health, and the upcoming Local Government Commission on 8/30. She noted the effective date of the Justice Reinvestment Act is October 1, 2017.

Maryland Department of Health Update

  • David Lashar, Chief of Staff
  • Webster Ye, Deputy Chief of Staff
  • Barbara Bazron

Mr. Lashar gave an overview of how the Department of Health is dealing with the JRA’s requirement to have a speedy process of evaluation and admission to treatment facilities referred to as Sections 8-505 and 8-507 of the Maryland code.

  • Section 8-505 (evaluation) refers to the case when before or during a criminal trial, before or after sentencing, or before or during a term of probation, the court may order the Department of Health to evaluate a defendant to determine whether, by reason of drug or alcohol abuse, the defendant is in need of and may benefit from treatment.
  • Section 8-507 (commitment) refers to the process of actually committing the defendant for treatment.

His conclusion was that “the overall challenge is to reduce a process that has taken 80-100 calendar days on average over the last year, to 21 business days by this fall for orders without detainers or holds.”

To achieve this improvement, Dr. Lashar highlighted staff increases. He mentioned that Baltimore City’s Department of Health Services is cutting back and that the State DMH will be taking on the role played by the City in the past.

Dr. Lashar, whose experience comes from his previous employment with IBM, said that DHMH will be implementing a system based on SalesForce (an IBM product). This will allow judges to log in and see the status of their order for evaluation and treatment.

Barbara Bazron, Executive Director of the Department of Health, presented on the transition to a Fee-for-Service model, effective January 2018. She stressed the importance of having a network of providers who knew the system and who were “vetted” to enable the department to expand the number of beds. Apparently the providers will be paid more than usual by the State. It was mentioned that thirty-five providers had already applied to be certified.  The department is working with the Department of Corrections (DOC) on the requirements. Dr. Bazron noted that most services have a throughput and velocity problem, but only the Title 3 “Mental Competence” service has a capacity problem. An obstacle has been that Medicaid will pay only for two 30-day stays, but 120 days are needed. The new budget will address this gap.

Paul DeWolfe wondered whether the Department was prepared for a significant reduction in Medicaid funds in the near future. Dr. Bazron admitted that a good deal of funding for the program comes from Medicaid, but she said that they would be ready.

Kathleen Dumais was concerned whether the numbers of requests from local detention centers were included in the totals. She requested more detailed statistics.

Barbara Bazron indicated they were revising their discharge policies, which would free up more beds. The department expected local community programs to be involved. .

Public Safety and Correctional Services (PSCS)

  • Patricia Goins-Johnson, PSCS

Patricia Goins-Johnson of the Public Safety and Correctional Services (PSCS) briefly discussed evidence-based programming and referred to a white paper recently sent to the GOCCP). In the area of case management she saw three challenges:

  1. Staffing: “we are working on it.”
  2. Dimunition Credits:  PSCS is waiting for changes to go through
  3. Administrative Release process: begins 4 weeks before release.

PSCS is developing a “dashboard” that will improve staff ability to monitor compliance. She maintained that no new policies were needed and PSCS has been better implementing existing policies. When questioned about victim notification, Goins-Johnson noted that they had a policy in place.

Paul DeWolfe observed that the new rules regarding geriatric and medical parole would have an important impact on PSCS. Ms. Goins-Johnson said that they were prepared.

John Greene, a Maryland Parole Commissioner, clarified and supported a few points made by Ms. Goins-Johnson. He emphasized the need for improved coordination with local parole offices. He also noted that with the new JRA, victim notification is made more liberal, allowing many more people to ask for a further parole hearing. A victim can file an objection to administrative release and request a hearing. When this occurs, two commissioners will hear the case.

Maryland Parole Commission

John Green said that training for various job roles has taken place. Requests for Open Parole Hearings are expected to increase.

Division of Parole and Probation

Joseph Clocker of the Division of Parole and Probation reported that his office has four major challenges in programs and policies:

  1. Case planning assessment. They have selected a risk analysis tool developed at George Mason University and will be training staff on its use. The tool is the Level of Services Inventory – Revised (LSI-R).
  2. Certificate of Rehabilitation. They have a process in place and are looking to automate that process further.
  3. Earned Compliance Credits. A process was implemented in 2013, and this was being updated to conform to the JRA.
  4. Graduated Sanctions. This was the biggest effort of his division. He emphasized that they were working on a “matrix of sanctions” that defined minor, intermediate, and technical violations. He hoped that these revisions would be in place by October 1st.

Senator Hough questioned whether the new policy was based more on the nature of the offense and less on the risk. The existing VPI program is not risk-based. Clocker agreed and said that the VPI program was being superceded, but they are keeping aspects of it.

Scott Shellenberger was dubious about the graduated sanctions, giving parole staff authority which he felt was reserved to judges. Clocker noted that missing a meeting with your parole officer would now be considered a minor infraction, not a technical violation which needs to be brought before a judge.  Shellenberger wanted to see the graduated sanctions matrix.

The levels are:

  1. minor infraction: e.g., missing an appointment but showing up soon after.
  2. intermediate infraction: positive in a drug test (3 repeats and it becomes a technical violation)
  3. technical violation: 15-45 days in jail and presented to court.

There is due process protection if the offender challenges.

Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation

Constance Parker of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR), spoke briefly about the professional licensing issues in the JRA.

  1. Certificate of Rehabilitation. DLLR is working with the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) on this issue. Information about the certificate will be integrated into their licensing process.
  2. Blanket Bans. There are none in Maryland. Each Board looks at the specific conviction, its relation to the field, and the time since the conviction in determining the applicant’s acceptability.
  3. Other barriers to obtaining a license:
    1. Hiring policies of individual employers. This includes working with the Business Solutions Division to educate employers on how to read a background report. Informing businesses on the Federal Bonding program to limit liability, and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) available to them on hiring a person with a criminal background.
    2. Applicant preparation for interviews. This includes working with Job Centers to give applicants more information, helping them articulate skills, and stressing the need for references.

Ms. Parker claimed that only 5 out of 129,000 applicants were denied a license because of a criminal record.

Administrative Office of the Courts

Chief Judge John Morrissey spoke from the viewpoint of the Administrative Office of the Courts. Judge Morrissey said that on August 18 a “train the trainer” session for administrative judges provided information about changes in the rules and in the legislation. He mentioned that the drug courts already use a form of graduated sanctions.

Judge Morrissey felt that the current practice of requiring only 12 months of supervised probation was insufficient and that a minimum of 18 months is required.  He also noted that there may be a rush in expungement requests beginning in October due to the JRA.

The Judge described the implementation of the Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC) system county-by-county over the next four years. When all counties have implemented the system more uniform reporting can be expected.

Judge Kathleen Gallogly Cox was concerned about the effects of reducing the mandatory minimums.

Local Government Reinvestment Initiative Commission

Robert Green of the Local Government Reinvestment Initiative Commission spoke briefly about the need to coordinate all the activities of State and local governments. This sentiment was echoed by Judge Long, the chairman.

Victims Representation

Russell Butler, who represented victims rights, said he had evidence that restitution often didn’t work and that information about who owes what was not consistently transmitted. He was also concerned that victims often don’t know their rights.

Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention

Becky Berkebile and Jeffrey Zuback of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention (GOCCP) presented their work on performance measures. They had identified 126 detailed measures by which to measure the progress of the JRA and spoke about their process of coordinating with other agencies in the collection of these statistics.  Baselines and updates will be presented at each of the JROB quarterly meetings.

Paul DeWolfe asked about the availability of Performance Grant Funds.   Glenn Fuston (GOCCP) noted that monies would be available one year from the activation of the JRA: October 2018. On the other hand there were already several grants that the GOCCP is able to make and has been making.

Janet Lane, the new Director of the JRA, was amazed at the “extraordinary teamwork” that was represented in the lead up to and during this JROB meeting. Learning how the program is working inside prisons is important to her.

Judge Long noted that the JRA in all its aspects was a “work in progress” and would evolve over time.

The Justice Reinvestment Oversight Board will meet again in the fall after the October 1 start date and in January just before General Assembly sessions begin.

Key meeting documents, including presentations and PowerPoints, may be viewed on the Justice Oversight Board’s website.

Thanks to James Rose and Barbara Thomas for this report.