New Parolee Responsibility Shift Proposed for Local Jails

In its budget analysis of the Maryland Parole Commission, to be heard as part of the House Appropriations budget hearings today, the Department of Legislative Services is recommending a shift of certain oversight responsibilities to local jails.

From the DLS explanation:

A variety of operational issues exist with providing parole-eligibility for local inmates, including inadequate caseloads and poor communication between state agencies and local correctional facilities. The result is a costly and inefficient system that limits the number of locally sentenced inmates who receive parole hearings in a timely manner. This action would reduce funding for the Maryland Parole Commission (MPC) and the Division of Parole and Probation (DPP) associated with providing parole to locally sentenced inmates, contingent on enactment of legislation requiring MPC to identify the cost per county for providing parole and requiring the counties to pay the cost in its entirety. This action also restricts funding in the Division of Correction for per diem grants, paid to local jurisdictions for housing offenders sentenced between 12 and 18 months, until each county enters into an agreement to pay the cost of providing parole.

The language the staff agency is recommending to add to the budget bill reads as follows:

Section XX. AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That $225,000 of the General Fund appropriation for the Maryland Parole Commission (MPC) and $350,000 of the General Fund appropriation for the Division of Parole and Probation (DPP) made for the purpose of providing parole to locally sentenced inmates shall be reduced contingent on the enactment of legislation requiring MPC to identify the cost of providing parole to inmates held in local correctional facilities for each county and requiring the counties to pay the full cost of pre-parole investigations, parole hearings, and processing. MPC and DPP are authorized to process special fund budget amendments to allocate the county reimbursements at a later date.

Further provided that $1,413,765 of the General Fund appropriation in the Division of Correction made for the purpose of providing per diem grants to local correctional facilities shall be restricted until each county enters into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by September 1, 2011, with MPC and DPP to pay the full cost of providing parole to locally sentenced inmates, contingent on the enactment of legislation requiring MPC to identify the cost of providing parole to inmates held in local correctional facilities for each county and requiring the counties to pay the full cost of pre-parole investigations, parole hearings, and processing.

A report shall be submitted to the budget committees by MPC and DPP identifying the estimated parole cost per county and certifying that the agencies had entered into MOUs with each county by September 1, 2011. The report shall be submitted no later than September 15, 2011, and the budget committees shall have 45 days to review and comment. Funds restricted pending the receipt of a report may not be transferred by budget amendment or otherwise to any other purpose, and shall revert to the General Fund if the report is not submitted to the budget committees.

This section of the DLS budget analysis can be read in context beginning on page 17 of the analysis, by clicking here.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties

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