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Local prison population down

April 30, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

While the prison and jail population in the United States continued to grow in the last fiscal year, that population at three facilities south of Hagerstown decreased.

According to information released by Maj. Priscilla Doggett, director of public information for the state Division of Correction, the number of inmates at the three prison facilities on Roxbury Road declined by 59 between 2003 and 2004, Doggett said.

As of June 30, 2004, there were 1,265 total inmates in the three facilities - Maryland Correctional Institution, Roxbury Correctional Institution and the Maryland Correctional Training Center. On that date in 2003, there were 1,324 inmates being held there.

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Those statistics are counter to the national figures.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics Web site, about 2.1 million inmates were being held in prisons and jails in the country in 2004, an increase of 48,452 inmates from the previous year.

Maryland was among 12 states that saw a decrease in incarceration numbers during the period, the site states.

Doggett said the division is pleased with the decline locally, though "no calculated attempt" was made to reduce the population during the year.

"Although it is positive we had the decrease, we don't have things we can attribute that to," Doggett said.

Doggett said the period tracked for the justice department study was prior to the implementation of several "transitional programs" at prisons throughout the state.

She said such programs will give inmates a chance to gain skills that will prepare them to better contribute to the community upon their release.

Doggett said she believes such programs may lead to continued population reductions in the future because more than half of the prison population in Maryland consists of repeat offenders. She said most of them had not been offered training programs during their first stint in prison.

"We have a high recidivism rate," Doggett said. "It is the majority."

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