There have not been a lot of major changes or developments in the last two months. As every other agency in the County knows, we’re waiting to see how the budget will unfold. We have new ideas and programs we’d like to start and expand; however, the budget situation has prevented us from doing so. We certainly don’t want to start something we may have to discontinue.
The proposed budget came out yesterday from County Executive Leggett and now will go before the County Council for approval. Our goal was not to have people lose their jobs. This was done by abolishing vacant positions, offering early retirements or offering jobs at a different location where there is a vacancy.
Local Church News
Ms. Griggs spoke of her pastor, Rev. Maisch, who is transferring from her church, Clarksburg United Methodist Church.
Mary Saxon-Clipper reported that three local church congregations are merging; John Wesley U.M. Church, Asbury U.M. Church and St. Marks U.M. Church. The new name will be The Community Faity United Methodist Church. The ministry to MCCF will not change, but will probably grow.
Rev. Terry Reister of the Hyattsville United Methodist Church is retiring on July 13, 2008.
Rev. Warner has recently begun working for Montgomery County in the County Executive’s Office as the Liaison to Faith Communities.
Camp Hope, which is sponsored by the United Methodist Church, is being held the week of June 22, 2008 at West River in Churchton, Maryland. Rev. Warner’s church is working with the Pre-Release Center to get volunteers and children of residents who are interested in coming to the camp.
Volunteer Appreciation Program
The MCCF annual Volunteer Appreciation Program will be held on April 30th. Invitations will be sent to the Community Advisory Group members.
Wendy Miller, a MCCF Social Worker, will be representing our department and presenting at the Gains Conference March 19th. The Gains Conference is a ‘think tank’ for correctional treatment providers with an emphasis on mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Because the inmates are becoming more interested in the Re-Entry Program, the numbers continue to increase. The Re-Entry Program is voluntary. A therapy group has been started called “The Coming Home Group.” This group is composed of inmates who are due to be released in the near future and have emotional concerns about returning home.
Vicky Dorworth reported that Montgomery College has recently been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The report mentioned several suggestions, but had no recommendations, which is excellent.
Governor’s Task Force
Lt. McClosky is on a Task Force sponsored by the Governor to address Forensic Patients (prisoners taken to the hospital). There have been some dramatic escapes across the state in the last two years where the prisoners have overpowered their correctional/police officer escorts. This has become a major concern of the Governor. The Task Force’s focus is on guarding the prisoners and assessing the emergency room environment’s potential for escape. One idea they are looking at would be to have one or two specific rooms in hospital emergency settings for forensic patients.
Model Learning Center (MLC)
The MCCF Model Learning Center is continuing to work with Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) with our Special Education inmates. MCPS is now providing speech therapy and psychological services. After attending Individual Educational Program (IEP) meetings, and working with our Crisis Intervention staff, some inmates have been able to go back on the same medication they were on when they were in the community. After a period of time, we have seen it to be of benefit in their overall behavior, as well as their school work.
With the recent budget cuts, MLC has started to work with many non-profit organizations. Our reasoning is that they can provide volunteers in the future and also help us identify other GED resources available for inmates upon release.
The siren is tested the first Monday of the month at 1 p.m. At our last meeting the question was asked if the siren could be used for different purposes such as weather emergencies. Warden Green advised that this could not be done without confusion. Kathy Hulley suggested putting up another siren for weather alerts, but the cost would probably prohibit this.
An incident was reported at our last meeting where the siren went off in the early morning hours several weeks ago. After checking with the Lieutenant on duty that night, Deputy Warden Malagari determined that Mr. Wallenstein was called, the Lieutenant was notified, and the officers working Central Control were questioned. They reported they had not activated the siren button (it is a manual button). It was determined that it was highly unlikely that it was our siren.
We were also contacted in reference to one of the schools reporting a ‘code blue’, which meant someone had escaped from the jail. We had no report of an escape and Deputy Warden Malagari reported, after calling the Police and Sheriff, there was no record of any inmate escaping from a vehicle.
There still are concerns about the proposal to build a bus depot at the entrance to Whelan Lane. Kathy reported that not only will there be 250 Ride-On buses coming and going from the depot morning and night, but 90 pieces of heavy equipment. Among many of her concerns is the completion of a water quality plan and, an environmental plan.
Since our last meeting the County Council has decided not to abolish bus route No. 75. This route is our main route for inmate families to travel up-county to MCCF.