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Pre-Release and Reentry Services
Community Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

Advisory Date
Administrative Conference Room, MDCD
Warden William L. Smith ~ (240) 777-9962
MCDC Warden Office
PRRS Chief Office


Committee Members and Guests Attendance:

Deby Armstrong, State’s Attorney’s Office; Eric Brenner, Director of the Maryland Governor’s Grants Office; Rev. Michael Bryant, Archdiocese of Washington; Cherise Burdeen, Team Burdeen; Colleen Davies, Parole & Probation; Thomas DeGonia, State’s Attorneys Office; Shawn Flower, Choice Research Association; POIII Denise Gill, Montgomery County Police Community Policing Coordinator; Karl Girshman, Community Member; Tomi Hiers, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections;  Kate Houtz, Community Ministry of Montgomery County; Susan Kirk, Bethesda Cares; John Lavigne, Public Defenders’ Office; Stefan LoBuglio, PRRS Division Chief;  Don Martin, Health and Human Services;  Kent Mason, Community Member; Felix Mata, Baltimore City’s Ex-Offenders Initiative; Hillel Raskas, PRRS Work Release Coordinator; James Shannon, PRRS Unit Manager; Andre Stepp, PRRS Resident Supervisor; Teresa Still, PRRS Assessment Services Manager 


Stefan LoBuglio welcome the group


1.   Welcome and Introductions:  John Lavigne, Chairperson
2.   Special Service Recognition – Former Assistant SAO Thomas DeGonia
3.   PRRS Chief’s Report:  Stefan LoBuglio
4.   Report from PRRS Community Advisory Board Sub-Committees
      -       Membership
      -       Community Outreach
      -       Research
5.   White Flint Area Development – Park and Planning Presentatio

Agenda Item No. 1 - Welcome and Introductions :  Chairperson John Lavigne called the meeting to order at 7:40 A.M.  The Committee members and guests introduced themselves.   

Agenda Item No. 2 - Special Service Recognition - Former SAO Thomas Degonia :  PRRS ChiefStefan LoBuglio and CAB Chairperson John Lavigne presented former State’s Attorney Thomas Degonia with a Special Recognition plaque for his service to the Department and especially for his dedication to the Pre-Release and Reentry Services Division.  Tom left the State’s Attorneys Office earlier this year to join a law firm in Rockville.  While at the State’s Attorneys Office, Tom was an advocate for PRRS and represented us very well before the courts in our escape cases.  As described by CAB Chairman John Lavigne, Tom is dedicated to his profession and well known in the legal community for his legal and prosecutorial acumen and his desire to be fair and listen to the arguments of the defense.  John brought Tom to his first Community Advisory Board meeting about seven years ago and he has been a member ever since that time.  The award plaque was presented to Tom by PRRS Chief LoBuglio and CAB Chairperson John Lavigne.  PRRS Chief Stefan LoBuglio asked Resident Supervisor Andre Stepp and Work Release Coordinator Hillel Raskas to join in the presentation due to their work with Tom as the PRRS Escape Officers.  Assistant State’s Attorney Deby Armstrong will now serve as the liaison with PRRS on escape cases.

Agenda Item No. 3 - PRRS Division Chief’s Report :  PRRS Division Chief Stefan LoBuglio presented his “Chief’s Report” (attached) which provided an update on PRRS activities and developments since the last Community Advisory Board Meeting on February 15, 2007.  Some of the highlights discussed were:

  • Resident Supervisor Andre Stepp was chosen as the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation’s 2006 Employee of the Year for his outstanding performance in his Resident Supervisor duties for the past nine years, serving as the PRRS Escape Officer, registering newly-arriving sex offenders with the police, and his leadership among staff.  Andre was honored at the Department’s Award Ceremony on May 30th and also at the Maryland Correctional Administrators’ Association Conference in Ocean City on June 3rd. 
  • Congratulations are in order to PRRS Correctional Screener Tina Michaels for graduating from the first class of the County’s new Management Development Program.  Tina was selected as one of two DOCR employees to participate in this 18 month program which aims to provide leadership and management training to promising County employees.
  • Community Advisory Board member Shawn Flower graduated from the University of Maryland with a Doctor of Philosophy.  Shawn’s dissertation (192 page paper titled “Predicting Success in the Montgomery County Pre-Release Center:  The Actual Efficacy of the Selection Suitability Scale”) examined the program performance of six hundred residents from 2001 to 2004.  Her study represents one of the first doctoral level research efforts at PRC.
  • The “Welcome Home” program has 94 individuals interesting in mentoring and providing volunteer services to PRRS residents.  Project Coordinator Mary Elizabeth Mulholland and Co-Founder
  •  Michael Bryant attended Masses within the      Archdiocese of Washington in an effort to recruit volunteers with professional backgrounds that would be interesting in providing      support for Montgomery County offenders post-release.  Training sessions for volunteers are  ongoing.
  • PRRS introduced a new Cognitive Behavioral Program – “Tools for Change” – which targets high risk individuals who need to examine how their behaviors lead them to their involvement in the criminal justice system and to learn alternative ways of thinking and problem-solving.  PRRS Community Release Coordinator Patricia Braun, Case Manager Pernell Shaw, and Case Manager Frank Rini (now with Pre-Trial) developed and implemented this program.
  • Women’s Unit – In January 2007, PRRS opened Unit I to female offenders only and created a Women’s Weekly Group to address a number of topics that provide more gender-specific and trauma-informed services to female offenders.  Staff have recruited speakers and the topics include a Presentation on Food and Mood, Women’s Empowerment Workshop, Christian Outreach Group, the Silver Spring Interfaith Housing Coalition Services, Legal Aid, Health and Wellness, Commission on Women’s Personal Development Workshops, spiritual/religious services at the Rose of Sharon and There’s Hope Christian Churches, image and wardrobe mentoring, and employment and skills training.        
  • PRRS Chief LoBuglio testified before the House Committee on the Judiciary on March 20, 2007 concerning federal legislation that would provide resources for reentry programs nationwide.  He also participated in additional briefings for congressional staff on April 20th and May 16th.  These briefing sessions were a great opportunity for him to meet congressional staff and others in the criminal justice field.
  • PRC Kitchen Expansion Planning- PRRS, with the support of the County’s Capital Planning agency, has begun preparing plans to expand the current PRC kitchen which was built in 1978 when the building opened.    When the kitchen was built, there were approximately ninety residents in the program.  Now there are an average of between 150-160 residents who need to be served three meals a day.  The plans calls for expanding and modernizing the kitchen and cafeteria area.
  • PRRS has begun using GPS for sex offenders and domestic violence offenders housed at the Pre-Release Center.  This technology will allow PRRS to track their movements in the community more closely. 

Agenda Item No. 4 – Report from the PRRS Community Advisory Sub-Committees :

  • Membership Subcommittee Members:  Chairperson Tomi Hiers, John Lavigne, Stefan LoBuglio, and Jim Shannon – Chairperson Hiers reported that the subcommittee meeting focused on broadening and diversifying the membership and formalizing the appointment of new and old members to the Board.  The committee discussed recruiting members from the private employment sector along with County social service agencies.  Employee associations and the Chamber of Commerce, she indicated, offer great potential to support employment efforts in the program.  Tomi also mentioned that the CAB might want to more actively involve the faith community on the board.    Current members were asked to come up with suggestions for recruitment from other agencies and organizations. The committee suggested that a letter of invitation to the Board should be sent to each candidate with a copy to his/her supervisor.  Chairperson Hiers said she spends much time on community boards and it would be a privilege to invite people to the Pre-Release Center. 
  • Community Outreach and Education Subcommittee Members:  Chairperson Cherise Burdeen, Felix Mata, Tim Warner, Tina Michaels, and Stefan LoBuglio – Chairperson Burdeen reported that the subcommittee discussed a number of ways to support the mission of PRRS including hosting a business breakfast, providing a one-day symposium or seminar on jail reentry, and having greater involvement with other County agencies (Management Board for Children, Youth and Families, Workforce Investment Board, etc.).   She added that she and the Division Chief were planning to attend the Annual Employer Appreciation Breakfast for companies that hire ex-offenders, and that this would be helpful to examine the feasibility of holding a similar event in Montgomery County. 
  • Research Subcommittee Members:  Chairperson Eric Brenner, Karl Girshman, Teresa Still, Shawn Flower – Chairperson Brenner stated that his subcommittee expressed interest in supporting PRRS research efforts to examine the effect of the program on families of the incarcerated – particularly the children – and was looking at ways to approach the public school system.  CAB Board Member Karl Girshman stated that he worked for a group that did research on PRC and agreed with the subcommittees ideas that it needs to look at issues other than recidivism.  Chief LoBuglio stated that PRC serves a greater diversity of the offender population than most other work release programs and that the research should explore its effectiveness win working with its most challenging population – particularly those with mental health issues.   In June, Chief LoBuglio and Senior Manager Teresa Still will present a proposal to the County Council to track recidivism.         

Agenda Item No. 5 – White Flint Area Development – Park and Planning Presentation :  Margaret Rifkin from the Montgomery County Regional Office of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission was a guest speaker at this morning’s meeting, and provided an update on the planning process of the White Flint Master plan.  She explained that the White Flint area development plans have been in place for fifteen years, however the County Council is currently reviewing and revising the plans.  The plan includes a mixed use of high density development and this could create opportunities and challenges to PRC.  The plans may spur the creation of thousands of units of housing and significant business and retail development.  When the Pre-Release Center was built in 1978, there were few residences near the location.  Most of the neighborhood has been unaware of its existence.  CAB Member Karl Girshman stated that there have been no complaints from the resident owners from his condominium (The Wisconsin).  One of the newest developments is the $850 million town center development being built at Old Georgetown Road and Nebel Street (directly behind the Metro Station).  One board member astutely mentioned that as new luxury condominiums and residences are created in proximity to PRRS, any new crimes that occurs may be blamed on the program participants regardless of whether there is any factual basis to support this allegation.    Chief LoBuglio thanked Ms. Rifkin for coming to the meeting and hoped she will continue to come and keep the Board members informed of the progress of the development.   

Agenda Item No. 6 –  Meeting Dates:

  • Thursday, September 27th @ 7:30 A.M.
  • Thursday, December 6th @ 7:30 A.M.

Agenda Item No. 7 – Adjournment : The meeting adjourned at 9:05 A.M.




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