Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $749,362)
The Maryland Public Defender Community Engagement Reentry Project will develop and implement release plans for incarcerated Marylanders. Taking advantage of the unique access and relationship that public defenders have with their incarcerated clients, this project will provide justice involved individuals with mental health and/or substance abuse issues with access to life-saving services and resources as they prepare for release and return to their home communities.
This project relies on a multidisciplinary approach to facilitate successful reentry for public defender clients eligible for release. With the expertise of social workers and reentry case specialists collaborating with attorneys, this project will: (1) identify, assess, and respond to the needs of incarcerated individuals eligible for release; (2) engage in release advocacy and planning; (3) provide appropriate referrals, care management and service coordination for individuals with a mental health and/or substance abuse issue; (4) conduct outreach to engage community providers to provide their services to project participants, and (5) conduct data collection, evaluation, and information sharing.
This project will further Priority 1(A), promoting racial equity and the removal of barriers to access and opportunity for communities that have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by inequality. Consistent with national and statewide data on racial disparities in arrests, prosecution, and sentencing, OPD clients are disproportionately Black and Brown individuals from low income communities of color. This project will serve a cross-section of OPD clients that are similarly Black and Brown individuals, and consistent with the peer model, will be representative of our client community. Each participant will receive individualized and appropriate services that minimize the barriers to services and the stigma that reinforced racial inequities. This project will also gather data on the extent of the disparities and the effectiveness of this project’s response, and highlight these concerns and recommendations in the testimonies and reports submitted to the court and in policy discussions with stakeholders.
The project also promotes a continuity of care, consistent with the statutory priority of the Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act of 2020. OPD will coordinate with the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and the county corrections systems, as well as qualified behavioral health providers and other recovery supports to provide a smooth transition from incarceration to community-based recovery. OPD will also provide peer support services and connect participants to appropriate advocacy and support groups to aid in ongoing recovery after release.