New Law Offers Drug Treatment Over Jail, Can State Comply?

On October 1, 2017 the Justice Reinvestment Act went into effect. This new state law reforms Maryland’s criminal justice system, reduces needless correctional spending, and reinvests those savings into programs that reduce recidivism and improve criminal justice outcomes.

A news segment from WYPR reports on provisions of the new law that focus on ensuring individuals suffering from drug addiction are able to receive treatment rather than incarceration. The provision requires that the Department of Health fulfill a court order for treatment within 21 days. Individuals are often held in local jails while awaiting court ordered treatment.

The Department has reduced its wait time for treatment from an average of 167 days in years past to 57 days as of this August. However, citing problems with bureaucracy rather than a lack of resources, representatives are not sure they will be able to meet that 21 day requirement. Rather as Erik Roskes, Director of Forensic Services, states during the segment, “We’re gonna try.” Holding the Department’s feet to the fire is the ability for the court to hold the Secretary in contempt for failing to comply.

Listen to WYPR to learn more:

Or read the article:

Offenders Sentenced to Drug Treatment Have to Wait (WYPR)

Related coverage from Conduit Street:

Local Government Commission Convenes to Discuss Justice Reinvestment

Justice Reinvestment Oversight Board Gears Up For Act’s Implementation

Feds Push Return to ‘Drug War’, Maryland Officials Back Justice Reinvestment

State Health Officials Held in Contempt Over Psych Beds


MACo’s Winter Conference, The Power of Partnership, on December 6-8, 2017, will feature a session entitled “No Jail is an Island,” which will discuss how county jails partner with each other and public and private sector entities to meet the needs of their inmates. It’s scheduled for Thursday, December 7, 2017 from 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm. Read the session description in our registration brochure.

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference: