Md. probation chief tries to curb crime through supervision
07/25/2010
Washington Examiner - Online

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Keeping former prisoners from committing -- or being victims of -- violent crimes is all about putting "supervision at the forefront of their brains," says Patrick McGee, Maryland's director of probation and parole.

To do that, the state's violence prevention initiative places under a strict supervision program ex-offenders deemed at risk for involvement in violent crimes.

The initiative turned three years old this summer and next month will receive an innovation award from the National Criminal Justice Association.

The program works by imposing rigorous reporting requirements on about 2,100 people on probation and parole, and revoking community supervision if the offenders don't follow the rules.

Those offenders contact their probation or parole officers at least three times a week, McGee said, while most offenders report twice a month.

"We tell them if they have one violation, one missed appointment, one dirty urine [test], we're going to request action," McGee said. "We're going to hold them extremely accountable in an attempt to suppress gun violence."

In its three years, the initiative has expanded by increasing ties with law enforcement and the juvenile justice system.

When the program began, one agent was assigned to work as an "embedded" agent with the Baltimore police, McGee said. Since then, embedded agents have been assigned to three other locations, including Prince George's County. William Faherty, the agent who works out of the Prince George's police fusion center, said data sharing is a key part of collaboration between probation officers and police. "I have access to information in a more timely and detailed fashion," he said. Without the initiative, Faherty said, "we might not be advised on an arrest until 24 hours later. If a guy is arrested today, we can get the violation warrant out today."