By Fenit Nirappil
Nonviolent drug offenders in Maryland will have a chance to stay home and take recovery classes instead of going to jail under a pilot program funded by Gov. Larry Hogan (R).
The governor’s office on Monday announced it was providing the Washington County Sheriff’s Office $540,000 to open the state’s first adult day reporting center.
Opening the center fulfills one of the recommendations by a state heroin and opiate addiction task force created to address the rising crisis of fatal overdoses in Maryland.
It also fits into the governor’s broader efforts with Democratic lawmakers to reform the criminal justice system by encouraging treatment instead of harsh penalties for drug offenses.
Offenders ordered by judges to serve their sentences at the center will take classes on life skills and landing jobs, while undergoing counseling and medication to treat their addictions. They will be periodically drug tested and required to have jobs or look for work.
Offenders are required to spend at least 92 days at the center in a six-month period. They risk incarceration if they don’t participate.
Administration officials say this approach is more likely to reduce recidivism and keep neighborhoods safe.
In a statement, Washington County Sheriff Doug Mullendore said “the right path for substance-addicted offenders is to treat them as individuals who have a medical condition, rather than try to solve the problem through incarceration.”