Worcester Jail Launches ‘Much Needed’ Pretrial Program

Worcester Jail Launches ‘Much Needed’ Pretrial Program
Worcester Jail Launches ‘Much Needed’ Pretrial Program

SNOW HILL – A new pretrial supervision program is expected to benefit inmates and reduce the population at the Worcester County Jail.

In late July the Worcester County Jail launched a pretrial supervision program that will allow certain offenders awaiting trial to be released. They’ll remain supervised but will be able to return to their homes so they can continue working or attending any relevant drug treatment or counseling programs.

“This is a step in the right direction,” said Worcester County District Court Judge Gerald V. Purnell, the administrative judge for District 2. “This new program will help us reduce the number of pretrial offenders incarcerated at the jail.”

The Worcester County Jail started the pretrial program this summer after the Worcester County Commissioners approved a grant application for $66,914 in funding to aid in administration of the program, according to the Maryland Judiciary.

“We worked closely with county leaders to get this program up and running,” said Worcester County Circuit Court Administrative Judge Brian D. Shockley.  “Warden (Donna) Bounds and Court Administrator Mike Howard deserve particular credit. This is a much needed program that will serve the county well.”

The pretrial program in Worcester County comes roughly a year after changes to Maryland’s pretrial release rule, which promotes the least stringent conditions of release before trial, went into effect. Similar programs are in effect in several jurisdictions throughout the state—including Wicomico County—and can range from telephone calls to defendants to remind them of court dates to varying levels of supervision based on risk and need.

“It’s an alternative to allow people to be released and continue in the community,” Bounds said.

According to Col. Quintin Dennis, assistant warden of security and custody for the Worcester County Jail, the county’s new program offers a wide array of pretrial release options, including self-reporting, phone calls, and GPS monitoring.

Bounds said that inmates will be screened upon arrival at the jail to determine whether they’re eligible for the program. If they are eligible, it will be up to the court to make the final decision of whether to allow pretrial release.

“I believe it will help in not only providing defendants with the opportunity to remain in the community but it could also be cost saving to the county,” Bounds said.

She said the program has been active since it was started in late July. As of this week Bounds said there were five individuals enrolled in the program.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.