From the Harford County Sheriff’s Office:
The Harford County Department of Community Services and the Harford County Sheriff’s Office held a summit on Thursday, January 26, 2012, from 9am-noon, at Harford Community College, Chesapeake Center in Bel Air, MD to address a “transitioning from custody to community” re-entry program. This is the first time in Harford County that the issue of jail-to-community transition has been addressed collaboratively by using a comprehensive, integrated and system-wide approach through inclusive partnerships.
In addressing the importance of this project, Harford County Sheriff L. Jesse Bane stated, “If we want to address the crime problem of Harford County, we have to address re-entry. If we do nothing, our Detention Center population will continue to grow and within 10 years, we will be looking at building a new jail because of overcrowding.” Over 5,000 offenders are released each year from Harford County Detention Center. Generally, these individuals receive little in the way of support or coordinated community services, as they reenter the community. Their successful transition to the community – without reoffending – is critical to community safety.
Successfully reintegrating individuals from custody to the community involves a collective effort; the transition process has proven too complex for one agency or organization to handle alone. Using a systems approach to transition where opportunities can be maximized for behavioral change requires a collaborative structure among key partners, focusing on the initiative, momentum, and empowerment of participants. Key partners involved in today’s summit included the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Harford County Office of Community Services, the Harford County Judicial System, Harford County Health Department, , Alliance, Inc., the State’s Attorney Office, Harford County Public Schools, and Habitat for Humanity, among many others.
The Summit was one of the first steps in developing a re-entry system for Harford County based on the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) Recommendations. In 2007, NIC, along with the Urban Institute (UI) launched the Transition from Jail to Community (TJC) Initiative. The TJC model represents a system-wide approach to delivering support and services to people released from jail; it also involves policy and organizational change and the engagement of jail and community leaders. The overall goal is improving public safety and reintegration while saving tax dollars in the long term.
Dr. Erik Roskes, Assistant Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Surgery at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine, served as the summit’s keynote speaker. Dr. Roskes, along with a United States Probation Officer, developed a clinical and public safety model dedicated to the needs of their shared clients. Dr. Roskes provides training of clinical and criminal justice audiences in a variety of areas along the mental health/criminal justice interface. In addition to the keynote speaker, organizational partners reviewed a summary of the Transitioning from Custody to Community re-entry program, the importance of community partnerships and Harford County Detention Center statistics.
For more information on the Transitioning from Custody to Community Re-Entry program, contact the Harford County Department of Community Services at 410-638-3389.