Two important improvements to Maryland’s prison system can be made – if local detention centers are willing partners:
- To save time and money, each inmate sentenced to state prison could be screened for appropriate placement and services, rather than being transferred to an expensive central facility in Baltimore.
- To improve “reentry”– an inmate’s transition back to the community at the end of his sentence, local detention centers could serve as “halfway houses” to permit inmates to reconnect with family, employers & support networks to help them stay crime-free.
One Maryland jurisdiction—Montgomery County- provides a model for how state prisons and local detention centers could cooperate for reentry of inmates completing their sentences.
Known as the Montgomery County Pre-Release Center (PRC), this program has succeeded in providing inmates with transitional employment, treatment, and family support, while saving taxpayer money through reducing institutional crowding, recidivism and victimization rates.
In 2013, the program served 683 individuals of which 85% successfully completed the program, and 80% were released with private-sector jobs. In total, the individuals in the Division earned over $1.6 million and paid nearly $300,000 in taxes, $300,000 in family support, $285,000 in program fees, and $5,000 in restitution.
This change also will clear the way for local detention centers to become effective partners for statewide screening and pre-release centers, helping to make corrections more effective and to reduce recidivism.
Using funds saved by removal of low risk inmates from state prisons, this reimbursement may be achieved without raising taxes. See Justice Reinvestment above.
This approach will be presented to the Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council for study.
Read about Montgomery County’s Pre-Release Center that someday may be copied to improve reentry in other parts of Maryland.
See the Council on State Governments webpage on “What Works in Reentry”.
See what the Republican Right on Crime movement has to say about reentry.