Justice Reinvestment Oversight Board Briefed on Opioids, Implementation

The Justice Reinvestment Oversight Board held a quarterly meeting on Monday April 24, in Annapolis.

Senator Michael Hough and Delegate Kathleen Dumais shared relevant updates from the 2017 General Assembly session. Hough noted legislation that was amended to avoid mandating Justice Reinvestment funds be spent in a certain way. Dumais discussed bills related to pretrial services that did not pass, but noted grant funding that will be available to local jurisdiction interested in starting a pretrial program.

Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) Executive Director Glenn Fueston spoke about the state’s Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC). The OOCC is a multi-disciplinary, data-based team created by the Governor to help coordinate state and county response to the opioid crisis. It is directed by Talbot County Director of Emergency Services Clay Stamp and operates out of Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). Fueston also briefly updated the Board on the annual report each county must provide on inmates detained in jail awaiting trial. Data included total pretrial detention population, average length of stay, reason for not securing release, primary offense and status of the case.

Webster Ye, Director of Governmental Affairs, and Dr. Barbara Bazron, Deputy Secretary for the Behavioral Health Administration, provided updates from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). Ye discussed bills relating to opioids that were passed during the session. Included was the Prescriber Limits Act, Start Talking Maryland Act, HOPE Act, as well as bills addressing distribution of controlled dangerous substances, telehealth, recovery residences, prior authorizations for opioid disorder treatment, and coverage requirements for behavioral health services. In response to a question about the burdens faced by the state’s medical examiner office, he noted that the DHMH is working on hiring more examiners.

Bazron shared a presentation on BHA’s progress on §8-505 and §8-507 placements. Under the Justice Reinvestment Act, the department is required to make these placements for individuals court ordered to treatment within 21 days. She noted that the department is adapting their process to meet the placement deadline, which goes into effect July 1. Bazron also discussed how as of FY 2018 residential treatment for substance use disorders, including the §8-507 placements, will be partially Medicaid reimbursable through a federal waiver.

Patricia Goins-Johnson presented on the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) progress on implementing Justice Reinvestment noting benchmarks that have been met, challenges that have arisen, and work that remains ongoing. Judge Kathleen Cox, Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger, and Public Defender Paul DeWolfe updated the Board on a process being piloted to promote efficiency in the review of mandatory minimum sentence modifications for eligible persons serving time for drug offenses.

Before concluding the meeting it was briefly mentioned that the Justice Reinvestment Local Government Commission has been fully appointed but has not yet met.

The 25 member board, chaired by Judge Daniel M. Long, is charged with overseeing the implementation of the Justice Reinvestment Act (SB 1005), the law passed during the 2016 outlining comprehensive state criminal justice reform. Duties include collecting and analyzing data, creating performance measures, and making recommendations for reinvestment of savings. The board meets quarterly.

For more information about the JRCC visit the GOCCP website.

Previous coverage on Conduit Street:

Justice Reinvestment Oversight Board Begins Work