Everybody coming into jails is at some point going to be released back into the community. We can either invest in helping them become productive members of society or pay the rising costs associated with recidivism and re-incarceration. That was the sentiment shared by the panelists at the MACo Summer Conference session “Reinvesting in Reentry – Why It’s Essential to Public Safety”. At this session audience members learned about the importance of reentry programs to help make sure those that come back become and remain productive members of society.
Mary Lou McDonough, Director of Prince George’s County Department of Corrections, started the session off with a broad overview reentry programs noting that the most effective programs start the day the person is incarcerated and are collaborative efforts. McDonough shared that it costs approximately $133 per person per day to house an individual in a local detention center. She outlined the costs and public safety benefits of investing resources up front in preparing an inmate to reenter society and successfully stay there, than on spending that money on repeated and extended jail stays.
The session then switched gears to provide examples of innovative and effective reentry programs. Major Craig Rowe, Warden of Washington County Detention Division, discussed his reentry program which targets people that have multiple incarcerations because of addiction. By helping the inmates receive treatment through components such as tele-medicine visits with the health department and medication assisted treatment through a vivitrol program, the efforts have reduced recidivism with only one person that has gone through the program returning back to jail.
Next Jack Kavanagh, Director of the Howard County Department of Corrections, presented on the Transition from Jails to Community (TJC) Initiative for reentry. This evidence-based model is structured on strong leadership and vision; collaboration; data-driven understanding of local reentry; target individual intervention strategies; and self-evaluation and sustainability. In regards to the targeted individual intervention strategies, the model involves collaboration between a broad spectrum of entities that provide assistance and support services to the individual. Collaborators include but are not limited to health departments, law enforcement, education providers, housing services, work force development, mediation services, and community services. Kavanagh shared a number of success stories from individuals that have gone through the Howard County TJC reentry initiative.
The session, moderated by the Honorable Robert Cassilly, Maryland Senate, and was held from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm on Friday August 14, 2015 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This year’s conference theme was “Energize. Mobilize. Capitalize.” For more information about MACo’s Summer Conference, please visit www.mdcounties.org/MACoCon.