The Justice Reinvestment Oversight Board (JROB) held a quarterly meeting on Monday, August 28 in Crownsville.
First up on the agenda was an update from the Maryland Department of Health. Chief of Staff David Lashar, Deputy Chief of Staff Webster Ye, and Dr. Barbara Bazron Executive Director of the Behavioral Health Administration discussed progress on issues relating to §§ 8-505 and 8-507 court ordered assessments and treatment. This includes a systematic and data-based review of the process from start to finish that has already resulted in changes to organizational structure and the addition of new staff.
The speakers noted the department has reduced the backlog of individuals waiting for 8-507 beds by 25% since the spring to about 25 people. They have also reduced the number of days it takes from order to placement from an average of 80-100 in recent years to about a month or 21 business days under the best case scenarios. They plan to continue to reduce these numbers and improve the process in anticipation of an uptick in assessments and placements under the act.
The meeting also included a number of updates from core stakeholders and board members in the process of preparing for the October 1, 2017 start date for the Justice Reinvestment Act (which was passed in 2016).
Patricia Goins-Johnson Executive Director of Field Support Services for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services discussed the staffing challenges the division is facing and their recruitment efforts. John R. Greene from the Maryland Parole Commission updated the commission on the work to train and prepare staff for new case plan procedures and collaboration with local agents. Joseph F. Clocker Director of the Division of Parole & Probation shared that the new graduated sanctions requirement has been their biggest challenge. While they have always had informal policies in place they are in the process of developing formal policies and matrices to comply with act.
Constance Parker, Administrator for the Re-Entry Initiative at the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, provided updates regarding their licensing work. Specifically she focused on educating employers on the benefits and incentives for hiring justice involved individuals, and responding to their questions and concerns. Chief Judge John Morrissey and Judge Kathleen Gallogly Cox representing the Administrative Office of the Courts discussed training the courts have been doing in anticipation of the law going into effect as well as concerns regarding unintended impacts the Act may have on the operation of problem solving and drug courts. Robert Green, Chair of the Local Government Justice Reinvestment Commission, announced that the local commission will be meeting for the first time this week.
The meeting concluded with a presentation from Becky Berkebile and Jeffrey Zuback from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention on the performance measures that are being established to help account for and guide the many facets of the act. So far 125 measures have been developed.
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 JROB visit the GOCCP website.
Prior coverage from Conduit Street: