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Pre-Release and Reentry Services
Community Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes


Advisory Date
08/21/2009
Location
Administrative Conference Room, MDCD
Contact
Warden William L. Smith ~ (240) 777-9962
From
MCDC Warden Office

PRRS Chief Office

Attendance:

Committee Members and Guests Attendance:

 Deby Armstrong, State's Attorneys Office; Stella Bagot; Fr. Michael Bryant, Welcome Home Program; Denise Gill, Bethesda Police District; Rev. Cheryl M. Gaines; Melissa George, Welcome Home Program; Louise Inman; John E. Jones, Jr., Community Member; Msgr. Ralph Kuehner, George C. McFarland; Michael Nolin;  Janina Roncevic; Co-Chair Diane Scott-Jones, Community Member; Candace Sinclair; Reverend Timothy Warner, County Executive Office;  Stefan LoBuglio, PRRS Division Chief; Tina Michaels, PRRS Assessment  Supervisor; Andrea Baker, PRRS Resident Supervisor; Ivan Downing, PRRS Resident Supervisor; and Dawn Downing, PRRS Accountant

Welcome by Co-Chair and Chief

Co-Chair Diane Scott 'Jones and PRRS Division Chief Stefan LoBuglio welcomed the members and visitors, and asked each attendee to introduce themselves to the larger group.   Co-Chair-Scott Jones explained that this meeting was going to be equally divided into two sections, an administrative section involving PRRS staff, and then a panel discussion involving residents only.  She added that this had been pre-arranged with the Division Chief who recommended that the committee members have an opportunity to speak with direct users of the program without staff present.   Given the full agenda, Co-Chair Scott-Jones asked that members keep their questions and comments pithy and concise.

Highlights of Chief's Report

There was a short review of the Chief's Report which is presented as a document that is available on the DOCR website.  The one item discussed involved the recent retirement of five senior staff members who had a combined service of over 126 years to the program.  Several events were held to celebrate their careers and many contributions, and PRRS has accelerated its efforts to fill those vacancies.  Due to the County's fiscal condition, PRRS will have to run more efficiently and with fewer resources. 

PRRS Strategic Planning Process Update

PRRS began a Strategic Planning Process in May 2009 to develop a vision for the Program three to five years hence.  Over 16 staff members from all ranks volunteered and comprise the Core Planning Committee.  They are divided into two committees, one which is focused on exploring the history and strengths of the existing program, and the other which is focused on conducting a competitive analysis of all reentry programs in the country.

  • Program Strengths Committee ' Co-Chair Resident Supervisor Andrea Baker presented a summary of her committee's planned work  (the other Co-Chair is Andrew Lautar):
    • Mission :  The committee believes that PRRS needs to state more boldly that its efforts are guided by evidenced-based programming.
    • Assessment :  The Pre-Release Center is much more than a work-release program and through its case management services and mentoring programs, provides individualized reentry plans that include a host of work, treatment, family, and civic activities.
    • Internal Environment :  The committee will focus on program's strength s such as providing services to the family members of residents.  It also noted that programs such as the cognitive skills educational programs, trainings such as Motivational Interviewing, and the Respect Opens Doors initiative have proved helpful to create a positive culture for staff and residents.
    • Stakeholders :  In meeting with stakeholders, the committee has found that many looked at PRC as a 'fix-it' shop and this included the family members of the program participants and employers.  The committee will continue to examine the expectations of stakeholders.
  • Competitive Analysis ' Co-Chair Resident Supervisor Ivan Downing explained that his committee (Unit Manager James Shannon is the other Co-chair) researched other well-respected reentry programs in the country to see what could be learned by their operations and services.  Co-Chair Downing added that the goal of this committee was to look beyond current constraints of budget and staff and look at what other nationally-respected programs were doing.  The committee, he explained, was examining best practices in the following areas:
    • Employment/skill training
      • Promising models in New York ' Community Employment Opportunity, Tennessee, and Massachusetts
      • Interest in social enterprises & transitional employment, community services
    • Family Support ' promising model is Family Justice in NY
    • Respecting the rights of Victims ' Restorative Rights movement
    • Community support
    • Case management
    • Programming ' Day reporting programs in Florida, Massachusetts
    • Housing ' Quarter houses in Iowa
    • Technology ' Dismas Charities House in Orlando, Florida.

Question/Answers

Evaluation/Recidivism Analysis Study ' How will its results integrate into the strategic planning process?  Division Chief LoBuglio indicated that the study will help provide an analytic framework to the strategic planning process and help PRRS develop strategic partnerships with other Criminal Justice and Human Service stakeholders.  The study should shed some light about what populations might need the greatest programmatic intervention and monitoring.  National studies show that 66% of individuals leaving from state prisons are rearrested, reconvicted, or re-incarcerated within three years of release.   The study in Montgomery County may show similarly high rates, but further analysis will show that only one-third to one-quarter of these recidivist offenses would be classified as serious.

What do we [Community Advisory Committee] want to accomplish so that the community can look at us to see if PRRS is worth the investment?  Several members commented that the CAC needs to monitor employment and other metrics to demonstrate that program participants are integrating into the community and committing fewer crimes. 

What role do offenders play in process?  PRRS staff members commented that the PRRS participants play the primary role in their own successful transition.  They are adults and are treated as such by PRRS, and they must demonstrate an ability to assume their adult responsibilities.

You talked about how staff members and residents share many ideas in common about program goals, can you describe where they diverge in their thinking?  Many residents have indicated that they would like PRRS to develop jobs with employers that could be available to them.  Staff members, on the other hand, believe that there is great benefits in assisting individuals learn how to conduct job searches themselves.   That said, PRRS staff are exploring ways to more aggressively market the program to prospective employers.

What about housing for the future?  Offenders have a difficult time securing housing and it is an important part of successful re-entry.  PRRS believes that housing may prove to be even a more vexing dilemma than employment.  Staff members are always looking for ways to direct residents to different housing resources.  Certainly, employed residents are advantaged in looking for housing given that they can demonstrate to a landlord that they can pay their expenses.  The program also requires them to save 10% of their earnings.  PRRS does work with a variety of non-profits such as the Silver Spring Interfaith Housing Commission to help expand housing options.

Is any part of strategic process going to look at how screening is done and who you accept into the program?  Yes.  The Strategic Planning process will examine whether PRRS should provide reentry services to other targeted groups than just sentenced offenders from the local jail.  These groups might include pre-trial detainees and probation/parolees who might receive day reporting services.   

Is there documentation on how the recession is affecting the overall effectiveness of program?  Can you capture that information?  Yes.  PRRS is seeing a significant increase in the time that residents require to find jobs.  They are competing with an applicant pool that is larger and more competitive.    Employers who are hiring are more likely to hire persons without criminal records than one with a record.  PRRS is examining other options to assist residents find jobs, and is exploring the greater use of community service, education and training opportunities, and transitional employment.  PRRS is also looking to develop better metrics to monitor the employment process

At 8:20 A.M., PRRS staff adjourned the meeting to allow Committee Members to meet directly with a panel of PRRS residents.

Final Comments

Co-Chair Diane Scott-Jones reminded the Committee members that the next CAC Meeting is scheduled for November 19th at 7:30 A.M., and the focus will be on employment.  The Committee members already agreed that for the November 19th meeting, each member would ask a prospective employer to attend.  Employers who attend can see what PRRS is about, learn importance of employment and livable wages for offenders, tour the facility, ask questions, and speak directly with prospective employees.  Please try to do this if you possibly can.

The PRRS Community Advisory Board 2010 meeting dates will be posted after the Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission 2010 dates are announced. 

The meeting adjourned at 9:00 A.M.

 

 

 

Director's Office · Montgomery County Department of Correction And Rehabilitation
22880 Whelan Lane· Boyds, Maryland 20841 ·
Telephone: 240-777-9976 · Fax: 240-777-9966
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