Detention Center holds re-entry fair
Inmates connected to services, resources at annual event
In an effort to help connect inmates with outside resources and services to help better their lives upon release, the Charles County Detention Center held its fourth annual re-entry fair on Friday with the ultimate goal of reducing recidivism.
Volunteers and representatives from 29 organizations attended this year’s event to provide
information to the inmates about the various faith-based, educational, drug treatment, mentorship and transitional housing programs that are available after release to help get them back on their feet.
Some organizations, such as Grace Lutheran Church and Point of Change Jail and Street Ministry, are also willing to work with inmates during their incarceration to help establish a plan that will allow them to successfully reintegrate into society and the labor force, while helping them turn their backs on the influences that may have led them to criminality.
“Even if it helps one person stay out of jail, it’s a helpful event, and that’s what the fair is really for,” said Cpl. Chris Clemons, the re-entry coordinator of the detention center. “It’s not going to touch everybody. Some people [inmates] are going to come just to come, but there’s going to be the select few that come in there, get the resources, better their lives, maybe better their children’s lives, and become a productive member of society. So that’s what it’s for; it’s really just to help the ones who want to be helped.”
“We want it for everybody,” he added, “but as long as we can help a couple, it’s worth it.”
Aside from those held in maximum security, all inmates were given a chance to attend the re-entry fair, which was set up in a gymnasium. Each group was given 40 minutes to walk around.
Among the organizations in attendance were representatives from the Charles County Department of Health who informed inmates on the varying substance abuse services and support groups available. They offer walk-in registration and assessments for substance use services every week, Monday through Wednesday, from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Applicants are asked to bring a photo ID, their Social Security number, health insurance information and verification of family income, such as a W-2 form, pay stub or letter from an employer, according to a flier.
Other government agencies in attendance included the Department of Land and Labor, Social Services and Veteran Affairs.
Volunteers from LifeStyles of Maryland, a non-profit dedicated to helping those in need, especially the unsheltered, set up a booth at the event and spoke with the men about its wide range of services, including transitional housing and “Safe Nights” programs. Every night from Oct. 1 to April 21, affiliated churches in the community take turns hosting the event which provides those without shelter a place to sleep, while feeding them dinner and breakfast, as well as providing other necessities.
“The whole idea of re-entry is to successfully transition prisoners from here, back into the community,” said newly-appointed detention center director Brandon Foster. “Too often, whether it be at the county level or the state level, at the end of a sentence an inmate is just walking out the door. If they’re not given some kind of direction, if they’re not put in contact with some of these people, the recidivism ... rate increases and it’s more probable that those people will return to jail. So, that’s really the whole effort.”
“People probably don’t really think about it when they think about what’s going on inside of a jail,” Foster continued. “The rehabilitative services are a huge part of it. Not only to make their time here productive, but to give them the best tools that we can to be successful.”
Foster also explained that the detention center is also in the process of establishing a memorandum of understanding with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services that will allow those housed at state prisons to be relocated to the Charles County Detention Center for the last year of their incarceration, granting them access to local services to better prepare them to be released. This, he said, would be limited to select prisoners who are willing and qualify, and plan to live in the area upon release.
Last Wednesday, Sheriff Troy Berry (D) announced that Foster — who has over 19 years of correctional experience — has been appointed the new director of the detention center after serving as the acting director for the previous seven months. Prior to his appointment, Foster was the deputy director of the facility before the retirement of director Susan Rice. Appointed to the position of deputy director was Deborah Dofflemyer, who previously served as the commander of the support services section and has been employed at the detention center since 1986.
“I believe leadership is principled in fairness, justice and common respect,” said Foster after the appointment. “I look forward to being actively involved in all aspects of managing the detention center and maintaining a good work environment in an extremely tough job.”
Inmates at the Charles County Detention Center’s fourth annual re-entry fair speak with representatives of the Life Journeys Writers Guild, to the left, and Department of Health, to the right.
Volunteers and representatives from 29 organizations attended the fourth annual re-entry fair held at Charles County Detention Center. Here, they await the next group of inmates to begin their 40-minute tour.
Karla Campos-Hunt, left, and Charlita Campbell, right, from the Charles County Department of Health attended the fourth annual re-entry fair at the Charles County Detention Center to provide inmates with information on how to get connected with substance abuse treatment programs.