Panel Highlights Successful Collaborations by County Corrections at #MACoCon

At 2017 MACo Winter Conference session “No Jail is an Island” audience members learned about the partnerships local jails have generated to provide comprehensive and successful programs behind the walls and within the communities inmates will return to.

From left to right: Council Member Jennifer Williams, George Kaloroumakis
From left to right: Council Member Jennifer Williams, George Kaloroumakis

George Kaloroumakis, Director of the Wicomico County Department of Corrections put it best that local jails were like “a community within a community, with the same structure as a small municipality.” Kaloroumakis set the stage by providing an overview of  the array of services and programs local jails offer in collaboration with state, local, and community entities for the roughly 9,138 inmates in the county jails. He noted that about 60% of that population are known to mental health providers and over 85% have a substance abuse issue.

Guy Merritt, Chief of Community Corrections for the Prince George’s County Department of Corrections discussed the importance of understanding where people are going for help and how they are receiving it before reaching out to potential partners to address gaps in services. Merritt presented specifically about how Prince George’s County is creating a service umbrella by working through MOUs to better share info with other county agencies that provide public safety, health, housing, human services. The jail’s biggest collaborators include the department of social services and the local health department.

Russell Wright, Ordinance Road Correctional Center Education Liaison and Anne Arundel Community College Corrections Education Coordinator, spoke about the Success Through Education Program (STEP). STEP is a collaboration between Anne Arundel Community College and Anne Arundel County Department of Detention Facilities to provide inmates with academics, workforce development, life-skills, and computer literacy to help inmates return to their communities as productive members of society. Participants receive one day off their sentence for every day successfully spent in class. This intense (teachers spend 90% of their time with 90% of the students) and fast-paced program (5 week sessions) has generated 924 GEDs.

This session moderated by Talbot County Council President Jennifer Williams and held on Wednesday, December 7. The MACo Winter Conference was held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme was  “The Power of Partnership.”