Vision

Second Chances, Safer Communities


No matter where you go in Maryland, people want the same things for themselves and their families: jobs and opportunities made possible by a good education, access to quality medical care, and a healthy environment. But wherever you live– whether it’s Baltimore City, Bethesda, or Berlin – all of these goals can only be possible when all of our families are safe in their homes and in their neighborhoods.

Today, Maryland is a lot safer than it was just eight years ago.

Between 2006 and 2012, we drove down violent crime by 26.3%, achieving the lowest rate in nearly 30 years(1).

We’ve done this, in part, by focusing on our most violent offenders; ensuring that those who put our communities most at risk will be put behind bars and stay there. And we’ve worked closely with our partners in local law enforcement and local government – giving them the resources they need to be successful in their fight against violent crime.

Yet as we’ve made our state safer, we’ve rejected the idea that safer streets require more Marylanders behind bars. In fact, we’ve seen record reductions in violent crime while reducing the number of people in our jails – a 6%(2) drop since 2007, leading to the lowest rate we’ve seen since 1994(3). We have improved outcomes through evidence based practices that aid offenders and ex-offenders in rehabilitation.

Even more importantly, we’ve reduced the percentage of offenders who return to prison once they’ve paid their debt to society. Since 2000, Maryland’s recidivism has drop from 51.4% to 40.5%; a reduction of almost 11 percentage points(4).

Improving the safety of our communities also means breaking the cycle of addiction. Since 2007, we have increased the number of drug treatment slots available in State correctional facilities by 9%(5) and partnered with the non-profit community to help ex-offenders access drug treatment through programs like the Public Safety Compact(6).

As more Marylanders escape a life of crime, we must change our approach to the ex-offenders in our communities. Together, we must improve our approach to recidivism and reentry, focusing our efforts on housing, job opportunities, and community support.

We’ve already made progress in this effort. Together, we’ve “banned the box” for state job applications, increased participation in training and education programs for inmates in order to better prepare them for a career after reentry, and improved community supervision through our Violence Prevention Initiative.

But our efforts are far from finished.

Building a better Maryland for more Marylanders means focusing our efforts on effective, progressive measures that keep our communities safe while extending more opportunities to our state’s ex-offenders. Together, we’ll: 1) create a “Pay for Success” recidivism reduction pilot program; 2) improve reentry management by implementing the Transition from Jail to Community model and bolstering transition services; 3) invest in transitional housing; 4) increase job training and employment support and create a pilot program for the Maryland Justice Corps; 5) increase the number of ex-offenders who reenter society with credentials; 6) adopt shielding requirements for non-violent offenses; 7) “ban the box” for all municipal and county employment applications; 8) create procurement preferences for contractors that employ hard-to-place individuals; 9) integrate one-stop career centers in reentry planning; and 10) modernize our approach to non-violent drug offenses.

By taking a new approach to ex-offenders and implementing these critical steps, we’ll continue to make Maryland a safer place to live, work, and raise a family.

Sincerely,

signature

Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown

To view a PDF version of this plan, click here.

 

Mission:The Brown-Ulman Administration will improve the safety of our communities by increasing opportunities and supports for Marylanders reentering society who seek to leave their criminal past behind.

Comprehensive Reentry

1. Create a “Pay for Success” Recidivism Reduction Pilot Program

We will create a “Pay for Success” (Social Impact Bond) program to reduce recidivism and facilitate community reentry for high-risk ex-offenders by issuing a request for proposals (RFP) to pilot this program.

Pay for Success is an exciting new framework for delivering social services that has been deployed in Massachusetts, New York City, and is in various stages of implementation in many other cities and states across the country(7). Under the Pay for Success model, service providers or private investors provide up-front financing, and the State only pays the vendor if they achieve the program’s previously agreed-upon goals(8). This goal-oriented approach allows vendors to experiment with innovative methods of service delivery at minimal risk to the State(9).

Cost: We will dedicate $200,000 to development of the RFP in FY2016.

2. Improve Transition Services

Increasing Transition Service Coordinators

We will work with local public safety partners to bolster the transition service teams at our correctional facilities in order to increase overall access to services for all offenders preparing to reenter the community. Every offender should have the opportunity to meet with a transition service coordinator, who will help them develop a post-release plan. It is vital that we have the personnel to provide reentry information to offenders that empowers them to succeed in the community. For example, a 2013 report on Baltimore City Jail suggested that additional staff were required to meet the reentry support needs of ex-offenders(10).

Implement the Transition from Jail to Community Model

We will also implement the Transitions from Jail to Community (TJC) model to assess the needs of offenders who are preparing to reenter the community. Reentering society after a period of incarceration is a challenge under any circumstances, but it can be especially difficult if the stay was long or the individual has a high level of need – including housing, health care, and employment.

TJC pairs corrections personnel with community actors for a model that intensifies support services where individuals are at the greatest risk of reoffending or lack basic community supports(11). This is a holistic, collaborative, community-based approach. By implementing TJC, we will reduce recidivism and improve public safety.

Cost: We will dedicate $500,000 annually between FY2016 and FY2019 to hire and train additional staff.

Housing

3. Invest in Transitional Housing

We will invest in the development of new transitional housing for reentering ex-offenders.

One of the most pressing concerns for recently-released ex-offenders is the inability to find housing. Half of homeless Marylanders have been incarcerated during their lifetime(12). Moreover, 35% report housing instability prior to their most recent incarceration, and 63% lacked stable housing after their release(13).

In order to address this issue, we will work with our partners in the non-profit and private sectors to build more transitional housing for people reentering the community after incarceration. Transitional housing provides more than shelter. These critical programs also include important wrap-around supports such as substance abuse treatment, mental health services, employment assistance, education, training and family services.

Cost: We will dedicate an additional $2,000,000 annually to the Shelter and Transitional Housing Facilities Grant fund and prioritize investments in projects for the creation of new transitional housing for ex-offenders.
Education and Training

4. Increase Job Training and Employment Support

Expand Maryland Correctional Enterprises and Increase Services Offered through the Education and Workforce Training Program

We will expand Maryland Correctional Enterprises (MCE) and increase services offered through the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulations’ (DLLR) Education and Workforce Transition program in order to create more job training and employment support within our correctional facilities. By increasing training and employment supports, we will prepare more ex-offenders for productive lives after release.

MCE trains and employs offenders in a variety of industries, from textiles to furniture, and a variety of services, from design and data entry to furniture restoration and agricultural services(14). DLLR’s Education and Workforce Transition program provides offenders with the skills they need to successfully transition into the workforce after their release, including GED and technical training.

Pilot a Maryland Justice Corps

We will also pilot a Maryland Justice Corps, modeled on New York City’s Justice Corps. Through this program, we will provide young ex-offenders (18-24 years old) reentering their communities with housing, education, job training and employment support as they transition back into society(15). We will orient these services to provide ex-offenders with opportunities to give back through targeted community service, such as beautification projects, which allow young people to reinvest in their neighborhoods and build trust and support with community partners.

Cost: MCE is a self-sufficient program, with sales that nearly equal its allotted expenditures(16). It can be expanded at very little additional cost. We will dedicate an additional $250,000 to DLLR’s Education and Workforce Transition program from FY2016 to FY2019 to expand training and education services. We will dedicate $500,000 to this project in FY2016 and FY2017 and will review the results to determine scalability.

5. Increase the Number of Ex-Offenders Who Reenter Society with Credentials

We will increase the number of ex-offenders who reenter society with education and training credentials needed to compete for employment. We will accomplish this by incentivizing offenders to complete degree and training programs through additional diminution credits, which reduces time served prior to release. Diminution credits would apply to offenders – other than those convicted of a sex offense, murder or attempted murder – who complete a degree or skill training program.

In order to equip more ex-offenders with the skills they need to compete, we will also partner with Maryland’s institutions of higher education to bolster education and training opportunities in our correctional facilities. Through partnerships with the University of Maryland System, University of Maryland University College and our community colleges, including virtual and web-based course design, we will make more offenders workforce ready.

By strengthening the education and training programs in our correctional facilities we will give ex-offenders the tools they need to compete as they reenter the community.

Cost: We will dedicate $2,000,000 annually from FY2016 to FY2019 in order to expand education and training in partnership with our higher education institutions.

Employment

6. Adopt Shielding Requirements for Non-Violent Offenses

We will adopt shielding requirements for non-violent offenses, which allow more ex-offenders to leave their past behind.

Too often ex-offenders’ criminal records prevent them from finding a job, which in turn increases their odds of re-offending. Through adoption of a shielding law, the criminal records of non-violent ex-offenders will be closed to public inspection, subject to certain restrictions. For instance, the person must complete their sentence and any parole or probation and must not commit another crime during the period between release and shielding. In order to protect the safety of Marylanders, this program will not apply to violent or sexual offenses.

Through shielding, we will help ex-offenders secure employment by ensuring that their non-violent criminal record is not a factor in their qualification for a job.

Cost: No additional cost.

7. “Ban the Box” from Municipal and County Employment Applications

We will “ban the box” from all municipal and county employment applications, except public schools.
In 2013, we adopted legislation eliminating compulsory disclosure of a criminal record in employment applications for State positions, except public safety personnel. By preventing management from inquiring about criminal history up front, ex-offenders have a greater likelihood of securing an interview in which they can demonstrate their professionalism and desire to perform the job. A criminal background disclosure may be required following an interview, depending upon the position.

We will bring the benefits of an unbiased application and interview process to all jurisdictions and all ex-offenders. Together, we will help ex-offenders find meaningful employment to allow them opportunities to contribute to their communities and participate in Maryland’s workforce.

Cost: No additional cost.

8. Create Procurement Preferences for Contractors that Employ Hard-to-Place Individuals

We will authorize State agencies to offer procurement preferences for construction or other state contracts in which contractors hire hard-to-place individuals like ex-offenders and the long-term unemployed(17). By encouraging contractors to employ ex-offenders, we will help more ex-offenders to join Maryland’s workforce.

Cost: No additional cost.

9. Integrate One-Stop Career Centers in Reentry Planning

We will integrate the benefits of Maryland’s successful one-stop career centers (“one-stops”) and the virtual one-stop Maryland Workforce Exchange job database in reentry planning. One-stops have knowledgeable staff, which provides job seekers with a wide range of personalized employment assistance(18). By bringing these services to pre-release facilities, we will help more ex-offenders to secure post-release employment, which decreases the likelihood of recidivism.

Cost: We will dedicate $250,000 each year from FY2016 to FY2019 to the integration of one-stop career services at Maryland pre-release facilities.

System Reform

10. Modernize Our Approach to Non-Violent Drug Offenses

Decriminalize Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana

We will decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, which will reduce the number of Marylanders that unnecessarily carry the burden of a criminal record.

Marijuana possession convictions disproportionately affect young African Americans. Although use of marijuana among African American and White communities is comparable, African Americans are 2.86 times more likely to be arrested for possession statewide, 5.6 times more likely in Baltimore City, and 2.4 times more likely in Prince George’s County(19).

For too long, non-violent Marylanders have been unfairly disadvantaged when searching for a job or housing due to minor marijuana convictions. We will end this disparity by decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

UPDATE: In 2014, Lt. Governor Brown supported the passage of legislation decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana (SB 364). As he explained in an Op-Ed he wrote with Joseph T. Jones to the Baltimore Sun in March, this law will help address the persistent racial disparities in our criminal justice system and save the State millions of dollars associated with prosecuting and incarcerating offenders.
Expand the Use of Diversion Programs

We will also work with the State’s Attorney’s Offices across Maryland to expand the use of diversion programs similar to California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ successful “Back on Track” initiative(20).

“Back on Track” is a pre-sentencing program for first-time drug offenders. In exchange for a guilty plea, the defendant gains access to a range of social services, including community supervision and job placement assistance. Sentencing is then delayed for a period of time, and the charges are dismissed if the defendant successfully completes the programs. This model is so successful that fewer than 10% of graduates recidivate.
Through successful diversion programs, we will reduce the number of people incarcerated and who reoffend(21).

Cost: Marijuana decriminalization will significantly reduce judicial, police, and correctional costs. We will reinvest these savings in our public safety system. Diversion programs can be funded through savings generated by avoided prosecution and incarceration.

Costs and Implementation

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Funding Source

The American Civil Liberties Union estimates that in 2010, Maryland spent $55,304,360 on Police; $39,281,380 on Judicial & Legal; and $12,117,049 on Corrections for marijuana possession enforcement, totaling $106,702,789(22). By decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, the State will reduce this spending significantly.

Projecting conservatively, marijuana decriminalization will save 25% of the total costs annually – approximately $27,000,000. These savings will be reinvested to fund other critical State priorities, including the public safety programs outlined herein.

 

Citations
________________________________

[1] Crime, Maryland StateStat Website
[2] Maryland’s Comprehensive State Crime Control and Prevention Plan, 2012 Annual Update, Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, page 17, 2012
[3] State of the State: Forward Together, Stronger Together, Maryland Governor’s Website, January 27, 2014
[4] Ex-Offenders Less Likely to Return to Prison, Maryland Officials Say, The Baltimore Sun, September 30, 2013
[5] Drug Treatment, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Website
[6] New Public Safety Compact Aims to Cut Maryland Prison Costs, Open Society Foundations Website, February 6, 2009
[7] Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab, Harvard Kennedy School Website
[8] Paying for Success, Office of Budget and Management Website, Fiscal Year 2012 Federal Budget
[9] Social Impact Bonds, A Guide for State and Local Governments, Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab, Harvard Kennedy School, page 9, June 2013
[10] Final Report, Baltimore City Jail Reentry Strategies Project, Choice Research Associates, page 82, September 2013
[11] Final Report, Baltimore City Jail Reentry Strategies Project, Choice Research Associates, page 6, September 2013
[12] Still Serving Time: Struggling with Homelessness, Incarceration & Re-Entry in Baltimore, Healthcare for the Homeless, Inc., page 4, October 2011
[13] Still Serving Time: Struggling with Homelessness, Incarceration & Re-Entry in Baltimore, Healthcare for the Homeless, Inc., page 4, October 2011
[14] FY2015 Budget Overview, Public Safety and Correctional Services, Maryland Department of Budget & Management, page 540, 2014
[15] Prisoner Reentry Institute’s NYC Justice Corps Expansion to Provide Multifaceted Services to Low-Income Communities Citywide, John Hay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York Website, August 16, 2012
[16] FY2015 Budget Overview, Public Safety and Correctional Services, Maryland Department of Budget & Management, page 538, 2014
[17] Results-Based Public Policy Strategies for Promoting Workforce Strategies for Reintegrating Ex-Offenders, Center for Study of Social Policy, page 10, April 2012
[18] Maryland’s Once Stop Career Centers, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Website
[19] The War on Marijuana in Black and White, American Civil Liberties Union, page 155, June 2013
[20] Finding the Path Back on Track, Huffington Post Website, Kamala D. Harris, November 9, 2009
[21] Press Release: Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Launches Initiative to Reduce Recidivism in California, California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General Website, November 20, 2013
[22] The War on Marijuana in Black and White, American Civil Liberties Union, page 77, June 2013

 


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