Clarksburg Citizens and Business Advisory Group Monthly Meeting

Montgomery County Correctional Facility  | Telephone: (240) 773-9700

MEETING DATE: May 20, 2003

Bina Allgood, Lt. Joe Anastasi, Capt. Jenny Barber, Carl Crawford, Lt. Zachary Grant, Rob Green, Nancy Hislop, Steve Howie, Loretta McClintock, Teresa Noone, Tom Odt, Terry Reister, Lt. Brian Roynestad, Susan Singer-Bart, Art Wallenstein

MCCF is 58 days into operation and is fully staffed. The average daily population as of May 20, 2003 is 602 inmates. There have been no critical failures, fatal flaws or problems in the building's design or security systems. MCCF staff are doing a tremendous job.
There will be additional light fixtures installed at the entrance of the building and in the parking lot. The biggest issue, now that it is spring, is how to keep the grass mowed regularly. County Facilities is only mowing on a 21 day cycle.

Institutional violence is down significantly. Violence directed toward staff is down. There have been no staff injuries while responding to calls. In the past, the floors were slippery and correctional officers would frequently slip when running. The MCCF ramp floors are textured to shed water preventing slips. There have been no recreational injuries with the inmate population because of smaller recreational areas in the pods. Because of the sports activities while using the large MCDC recreational yard, there were more injuries to inmates. Half of these injuries would require the Sheriff's Department to transport an inmate to a hospital for treatment.

The Medical Unit has been able to expand because of the increased space at MCCF. We have the capabilities of in-house suturing. A Physical Therapist now comes to MCCF for inmate physical therapy. In the past, the inmates would have to be transported out of the facility to be treated. The County Council has recently approved in-house dialysis for MCCF. This would eliminate the transport of inmates into the community, the cost and time of the escorting officers, as well as any public safety issues. We have looked for every possible way to cease the transport of inmates without diminishing the quality of healthcare. There was discussion concerning the possible future plan of Shady Grove Health Care System putting an emergency clinic or medical building in Clarksburg and the benefits it would provide to the community.

Inmate participation in programming is approximately 500 inmates (ADP 602 inmates). Today was the first program in our Multi-Purpose Room. It was a grant funded program on Hispanic and Cultural Diversity in Music for 64 inmates (Youthful Offender Group).

There are four staff on Military Leave who will be gone for approximately six or seven months.

MCCF management staff are working together with the Sheriff's Department meeting weekly on how procedures could be more efficient.

There has been an increase in the number of volunteers since MCCF has opened. They are being utilized extensively in the start-up of the MCCF programs.

Loretta described a new program recently brought to MCCF. Phyllis Morrougiello, a friend of Loretta's, who attended CBAG many times, has a support group for families or loved ones of inmates. She recognized that this area of support was an unmet need. Bobbi Lowe, as a member of this support group, felt the need to volunteer in this area also. After Phyllis and Bobbi met with Rob there was discussion that Bobbi would start another support group at MCCF. Both Phyllis and Bobbi have a loved one who is incarcerated. It would be very beneficial for family members of an inmate to hear from other family members with the same circumstances. There are many programs and self-help groups that they could be directing their loved one to (while they are in the facility and when they are released).

The Lobby Literature Area which provides brochures, pamphlets and a wide variety of information for the inmate's family has been extremely utilized. Tom made the suggestion that a video could be made focusing on all the questions, needs, and procedures a family member might find very helpful. The video would be similar to the Inmate Orientation Video. Art commented that this was an excellent idea. With the help of grant money, the video could be produced solely focusing on the inmate and his family. In addition, Art is planning a display listing organization's telephone numbers (English and Spanish) for just about any need the family may have (e.g., child care, rental issues).

Terry mentioned that his church is exploring the possibility of a camp for children of inmates. There has been an offer of a church camp near Sharpsburg at no cost. There have been many people from Terry's congregation that have volunteered to help with the camp. The camp is still in the planning stage.

Teresa, who is a volunteer in the MCCF Library, commented on her experiences since she began. An inmate she spoke to had very positive comments about the plumbing program offered at MCCF. Rob advised that the group that Teresa was speaking to was a maximum security group of inmates, which in most facilities have a tendency to be very negative, problematic, and demanding. In other facilities they are more worried about protecting their property and themselves then engaging in a program. At MCCF this tension is not there, which allows them to concentrate on their programs.

Steve brought up for discussion the re-structuring of the Citizens and Business Advisory Group. After the jail opens the group would continue to meet monthly for a year, but the CBAG committee would come to a conclusion. CBAG is no longer a planning and opening committee. Art suggested that the group continue, but be called something else. The committee should expand now that the jail is open. We want to encourage people from lower County who are interested in ESOL, re-entry, education, etc. to attend. Art sees the group as a tri-fold group; Neighborhood, Correctional/Program Advocacy groups, and the County, while still remaining committed to the community.

Art suggested that the Issues Matrix (pre-opening) come to a close. He handed out an updated draft to review. By our next meeting the members are asked to read the matrix and see if they have any questions. At that time there could be discussion, but the goal is to agree that it is on the web indefinitely for anyone to view and is an accurate historical record. The group would start fresh with a new Issues Matrix concerning the Operations of the Montgomery County Correctional Facility.

Art asked that a work group be formed consisting of representatives for the Neighborhood, for Programmatic Issues, and for the County. They could sketch a simple organizational structure, by-laws, what community groups would be invited, as well as a tentative name for the new group. We would meet monthly for the first year and the work group would decide how often the new group would meet from that point on. The work group members would meet to write a proposal as stated above, that would be ready for discussion by June or July's meeting. Four members were appointed for this work group: Nancy Hislop, Steve Howie, Rob Green, and Loretta McClintock. Bina will contact all the members to set up the first meeting.

Art Wallenstein noted the total commitment of the County to maintaining a high quality and very public advisory board process. The three key elements are clearly local neighborhood and up-county community, county-wide correctional advocacy and MCCF administration and staff. This will form the core elements which clearly were agreed to at the meeting and will be refined by a work group that was selected. The work group will seek to report back at the next meeting of CBAG as we move from the pre-opening faze to the broader operational faze now that MCCF is open and fully operational.

Steve reported that the Clarksburg Civic Association met and wanted to go on record with a statement saying that they opposed the closing of the County budget deficit through the proposed revenue initiative (housing Federal Inmates). It is a very complex issue. Art stated that the beds will go first to Montgomery County residents, which is on the record with the Council. Only 64 beds will be filled with Federal inmates.

No DOCR employees were lost as a result of the budget deficit. A CPU Manager position at MCDC will be abolished (individual is retiring) and will be replaced with a Lieutenant. We are abolishing the position of Recreation Supervisor. This employee will be moving to a position with our Case Management staff. A part-time Librarian Assistant position will no longer be funded through the library. This employee will take another position within the Library System.
The part-time Librarian Assistant may be added to the Library at a later time if there is unexpected revenue in Corrections.

We were indeed very fortunate, and received no reduction in any security or life safety positions. This reflects our ability to generate revenue through taking Federal prisoners at MCCF, MCDC, and PRC. This was clearly a unique situation as was explained to CBAG members. There was no way to meet a 2 million dollar target reduction without significant staff reductions had the revenue option not been approved. Other agencies like Library, Recreation, and Human Services also took reductions and DOCR is a team player and had to take reductions or lose staff. We were indeed fortunate to avoid staff reductions that would have significantly impacted security and program operations.

Cathy Jewell sent a message to Art giving an update on the Kingsley Wilderness School. They have received occupancy and expect to begin teaching with next year's school term in August.

Teresa asked how the inmate workers are classified. There are three levels that an inmate can earn days to reduce their sentence. For good behavior they get five days, for participating in programs they get five days and for doing hazardous work they get five days. The maximum amount of days an inmate can earn towards reducing their sentence is 15 days per month.

Carl reported that the siren can be heard clearly from his road; it has a distinct sound.

Teresa made the suggestion that new volunteers should be advised of the emergency of an activated body alarm. If the body alarm is activated somewhere in the building the Correctional Officers run down the halls responding to the emergency. She did not know if it was an emergency that would affect her in the library or not. Many of these alarms are false and the officers and operations return to normal quickly. Staff would be notified if it was a concern that affected them.

Loretta asked why the MCCF metal detector in the Lobby was so insensitive. Her concern was that there could be many metal objects that would make it through our metal detector and possibly into the facility. Rob explained that the MCCF metal detector is at a very low sensitivity and he would check into it.

The next meeting will be June 17, 2003 at MCCF, in the Warden's Conference Room (second floor)