Inmate Funding Relief Bill Spotlights Local Jails Plight

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee heard testimony from local corrections officials on the impact of State cuts to prisoner reimbursements on February 17.  SB 349 would reduce the maximum amount of time a judge may sentence an individual to a local correctional facility from 18 months to 12 months.  The bill was introduced in response to the State not providing reimbursements in FY 2010 and 2011 for prisoners serving sentences between 12 and 18 months.

Carroll County Detention Center Warden and Maryland Correctional Administrators Association President George Hardinger, Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation Director Art Wallenstein, and Prince George’s County Department of Corrections Director Mary Lou McDonough testified on the impact of losing the  reimbursements and other cuts, which totaled $43.2  million for FY 2010.  The Maryland Association of Counties submitted written testimony in support of the bill. 

The Gazette reported on the billing hearing, including quotes from Judicial Proceedings Chair Brian Frosh:

Maryland has stopped reimbursing local jails for housing inmates, and now jail officials either want the payments to return or the inmates to go away. …

“The state took the money they had been providing for 30 full years and left the inmates to county government with no support,” said Arthur Wallenstein, director of the Montgomery County Department of Corrections. …

Frosh said he was told not to pass any bills out of committee that have a fiscal impact on the state without approval from the Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee — meaning the bill is unlikely to gain support.

“You can draw your own conclusion, but this is a year in which the General Assembly is looking to find cuts, not looking to fund additional programs,” Frosh said.

“I think a lot of people on the committee would like to support [the legislation], but we can’t pass bills with fiscal notes.”

Thanks to the MarylandReporter.com for the link.

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