Worcester County launches pretrial supervision program for circuit and district courts

SNOW HILL, Md. – A pretrial supervision program designed to lower recidivism and failure-to-appear rates as well as reduce the population in the Worcester County Jail is now operational.

The new program, which started on July 16, is operating out of the Worcester County Jail, under the supervision of Lt. LaToya Everett, who currently serves as the manager for the pretrial release program.

“This position will be responsible for working with the courts to provide an alternative to pretrial incarceration,” Worcester County Jail Warden Donna Bounds said.

Worcester County commissioners unanimously approved the fiscal year 2019 grant application for grant funds of $66,914 to administer the program at their July 17 meeting.

“We worked closely with county leaders to get this program up and running,” said Judge Brian D. Shockley, County Administrative Judge, Circuit Court for Worcester County. “Warden Bounds and Court Administrator Mike Howard deserve particular credit. This is a much needed program that will serve the county well.”

Pretrial release programs allow offenders, who are awaiting trial, to continue employment, obtain drug and/or alcohol treatment, mental health counseling, and maintain a stable home environment.

“This is a step in the right direction,” said Worcester County District Judge Gerald V. Purnell, District 2 Administrative Judge (Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties). “This new program will help us reduce the number of pretrial offenders incarcerated at the jail.”

Worcester County’s new pretrial supervision program begins about a year after changes took effect to Maryland’s pretrial release rule (Rule 4-216). Those changes took effect July 1, 2017, and promote the least stringent conditions of release before trial.

“Jurisdictions in Maryland are working hard to address the need for better approaches to managing defendants pretrial,” said District Court of Maryland Chief Judge John P. Morrissey. “We are constantly looking for better ways to ensure defendants appear in court while maintaining public safety. Pretrial supervision programs are one way to do just that.”

Pretrial supervision services are provided in some jurisdictions in Maryland and vary in level of funding and complexity. They can range from telephone calls to defendants to remind them of court dates to varying levels of supervision based on the use of risk and needs assessment tools.

According to Col. Quintin Dennis, Assistant Warden of Security and Custody for the Worcester County Jail, the county’s new program offers a wide array of pretrial release options, including self-reporting, phone calls, and GPS monitoring.

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