The Maryland Correctional Administrators Association (MCAA) formally opened its 2016 annual conference on June 5 in Ocean City with an awards banquet honoring correctional officials from the State and county governments. Every county and three Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services facilities selected 1-2 correctional officers or administrative staff to honor as an “Employee of the Year.” MCAA is a MACo affiliate.
MCAA President and Allegany County Detention Center Director of Operations Daniel Lasher made some opening remarks as well as giving a series of special President’s Awards to those who have helped in the administration and policies of MCAA. Among the President’s Award winners was MACo Policy Analyst Natasha Mehu for her work on the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) during the 2016 Session.
In his comments, Lasher praised the challenging job correctional officers face and the importance of being engaged in both the state and local legislative process. He spoke at length about the potential benefits JRI, including reducing the numbers of inmates who would be better served receiving mental health or substance abuse services rather than jail time. However, Lasher also cautioned about JRI being used to unfairly burden county governments with the costs of providing treatment services or shift inmates from State facilities to local jails without commensurate resources. He also stated the work on JRI was far from over.
The awards banquet was also attended by several state and local officials, including Maryland Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes and Kent County Commissioner Ronald Fithian. A number of county sheriffs were also present.