A joyous graduation followed by an abrupt end to partnership devoted to helping ex-inmates and saving tax dollars

PSC graduate Baye Parker with sons Jalen (11) and Jawon (10).

PSC graduate Baye Parker with sons Jalen (11) and Jawon (10).

On Oct. 28, 70 graduates in caps and gowns, plus family, friends and well-wishers, filled the University of Baltimore School of Law’s moot courtroom for the eighth graduation ceremony of the Public Safety Compact (PSC).

A partnership between Maryland’s corrections department and Baltimore’s Safe and Sound Campaign, the PSC was designed to improve the lives of participants through drug treatment and other therapies and to save tax dollars by shortening prison sentences and lowering recidivism rates.

Nearly 300 former inmates have graduated from the program since 2010. The recidivism rate among graduates is 9 percent after three years, compared to the state rate of 40.5 percent for those released in 2009, according to Safe and Sound data.

On Nov. 1, the state ended Safe and Sound’s contract, saying it had been granted in violation of state procurement guidelines. According to a Nov. 6 article in The Sun, state officials said a 2008 memorandum of understanding with Safe and Sound, a nonprofit, did not conform to state contracting rules; the contract, they said, should have been put out to bid.

Hathaway Ferebee, Safe and Sound’s executive director, told The Sun that the state had canceled the contract “out of the blue.”

The news prompted Baltimore’s health commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen, and other officials to call for the program’s continuation.

The secretary of the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said the agency would continue the program, but without Safe and Sound.

Among those who addressed the Public Safety Compact graduates and audience were Marilyn Mosby, the Baltimore City state’s attorney; David Blumberg, the chairman of the Maryland Parole Commission; Kate Wolfson, J.D. ’12, director of the Public Safety Compact; and state Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam.

Nathan-Pulliam, a registered nurse whose senatorial district includes parts of Baltimore City and Baltimore County, revealed that her younger son is a substance abuser.

“I’ve been through hell,” she told the graduates and their families. “I’ve been there and I’m still there. So I understand the importance of this graduation. For those who’ve cried at night, I hear you.”

Click here to read The Sun‘s Oct. 29 article about the Public Safety Compact graduation ceremony at the UB School of Law and to watch a video of the event.

Click here to read an op-ed titled “‘Stinking thinking’ shutters ex-offended program in Baltimore.”

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