The Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP), former State Senator Chris Shank, addressed MACo’s Legislative Committee on Wednesday, March 11 to discuss pretrial proposals before the General Assembly and the State’s heroin epidemic. Mr. Shank began his comments by providing a brief overview of the grants his office provides to local governments for victims service and law enforcement initiatives. He stated that the “State and local governments need to come together as collaborative partners to address these issues and those related to pretrial and substance abuse.”
With respect to the heroin epidemic, he commented that the figures are startling. Governor Hogan has signed an executive order to create a task force that will use an interagency and community approach to address this issue. The first community meeting to bring together partners to discuss solutions to the problem will be held in Cecil County on March 17. Mr. Shank also shared that $500,000 of federal funding through Bynre grants has been earmarked in GOCCP’s budget for a re-entry program to treat incarcerated individuals who are addicted to heroin. This program is modeled after Washington County’s reentry program, which has a 93% success rate. Lastly, Mr. Shank commented that his office is also providing free on-site treatment kits for law enforcement containing naloxone to quickly reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.
On pretrial issues, Mr. Shank commented that he is well aware of the effect the Richmond decision is having on local jails, especially in the larger jurisdictions. He said the State “needs to look at models that are more efficient,” and that “…we need to work together to do this.” He commented that he was aware that proposals were not moving in the General Assembly and that it was likely the budget committees would again earmark $10 million in the Judiciary’s budget to continue the panel attorney program put in place this year. The budget language being considered would require counties to cover any program costs over the $10 million just as the language does for the current fiscal year.