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When inmates don't go home

Committee forum discusses release process

Committee forum discusses release process

October 05, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN - When some of Washington County's state prison inmates are released, they're dropped off at a Hagerstown bus station and given money for a ticket home.

Within 24 hours of their release, they're supposed to report to a parole office - typically, in the county in which they were convicted.

Sometimes, though, they don't go home and they don't report.

That's according to members of a task force that met Sept. 26 to talk about prison inmates who live and were convicted elsewhere but stay in Washington County after they're released.

Ed Lough, a member of the task force, spoke Wednesday at a Greater Hagerstown Committee forum at Robinwood Medical Center.

The committee - business and community leaders who work privately on local issues - planned three forums to reach candidates in the general election and the public.

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Other topics during Wednesday's forum, which was the second one, were economic development, water and sewer service and annexation, Washington County Free Library's expansion and home rule government.

During a phone interview Wednesday afternoon, George Gregory, a spokesman for the Maryland Division of Correction, confirmed the prisoner release process as it was described at the forum.

He said inmates on supervised parole, who have time left to serve, tell state officials where they plan to live. The state investigates the location.

Other inmates, on mandatory parole, have finished serving their time. Gregory said the state doesn't investigate where those inmates will live.

At the forum, Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said inmates released from state prisons in Allegany County, Md., also are sent to the Hagerstown bus station. Greyhound no longer has a station in Cumberland, Md.

Lough said the task force is exploring other approaches, such as having the state release inmates in their home counties.

Other local task force members include Smith; Brien Poffenberger, the president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce; Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington; Greater Hagerstown Committee Executive Director Art Callaham; and Paul Muldowney, a state delegate candidate.

Del. John P. Donoghue, Muldowney's opponent in the Nov. 7 general election, asked Wednesday to be included at the task force's next meeting.

Releasing inmates to where they lived might not solve the problem, Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said.

He said inmates who lived out of state might end up in Washington County after they're released if their families move here to be near them, he said.

Changing the inmate release process might help wipe out the false perception that downtown Hagerstown is not safe, Lough said.

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