Md. Receives Federal Drug-Fighting Grant!

Md. Receives Federal Drug-Fighting Grant!
Posted by FoM on January 06, 1999 at 05:21:43 PT

Federal drug-fighting grants announced by President Clinton yesterday include $474,933 to beef up drug-detection hardware and addiction treatment at Maryland's 2,400-inmate House of Correction complex in Jessup.
Money for the maximum-security facility will go for everything from night vision devices and drug-sniffing dogs to increased overtime for narcotics investigators and laptop computers to aid coordination of drug probes, according to prisons spokesman Leonard A. Sipes.A portion of the funds will go to a four-week intensive drug treatment program for inmates reaching the end of their sentences."This is truly a new day," said Stuart Simms, secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, who attended Clinton's announcement at the White House. "It is also a day of reckoning for thousands of criminal offenders."Sipes said that 80 percent to 85 percent of Maryland's 22,500 prisoners have a drug abuse history and that an undetermined number use drugs that have been smuggled in to them by visitors and prison employees.To stem the inflow of drugs, the prison system has begun using state-of-the-art ion-scan machines to detect traces of drugs on the clothing of people entering the state's 14 major prison facilities. But because the system has only four of the machines -- they cost $60,000 apiece -- prison officials must move them from facility to facility for unannounced spot enforcement checks.Sipes said that none of the new federal money is earmarked for additional ion-scan machines, but that with the "powerful intervention" of additional investigators, drug dogs, surveillance cameras and other hardware from the federal sources, "we hope to induce the state General Assembly to buy more" ion-scans in the future.The federal grant money is focused as a test case on the House of Correction and House of Correction Annex housing most of the state's toughest criminals to see whether additional drug-interdiction techniques work effectively there, Sipes said. If so, he said, it will help justify extending the effort to the rest of the state's sprawling prison system.The federal money represents a significant tightening of the screws at Jessup, where visitors and employees alike periodically have been arrested for attempting to bring drugs into the complex. But officials acknowledge that the drugs they have stopped are only a portion of what gets into the prison.The effort at Jessup also is part of a broader ongoing "Break the Cycle" initiative introduced by Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D) to disrupt the revolving-door phenomenon of crime and drug addiction. The initiative is designed to cut drug-related crime by targeting drug addicts on probation and parole, as well as those behind bars.The effort, praised by Clinton yesterday, combines concepts of punishment and rehabilitation by requiring parolees and probationers to undergo frequent drug testing and face escalating penalties each time they fail drug-screening tests as a motivation to remain in treatment.  Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company
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