Howard prisons chief wants to treat drunken drivers in short-term unit

April 06, 1991|By Michael J. Clark | Michael J. Clark,Howard County Bureau of The Sun

Howard County's newly appointed director of corrections is planning a special treatment center for drunken drivers and misdemeanor drug offenders at the county's jail in Jessup.

Modeled after a special jail facility in Prince George's County, the 24-bed center would house offenders assigned by judges for up to 28 days of treatment and counseling, said James "Buck" Rollins, who took over the $64,535-a-year county job March 14.

The prisoners would pay the cost of their own treatment, which now is $900 for the 28-day program in Prince George's, he said.

"I like the concept," said Mr. Rollins, 43, who started as a prison guard 22 years ago and worked his way up to be warden of the Maryland Penitentiary.

"Substance abuse is the main problem for 80 to 85 percent of the persons incarcerated here. To ignore it would mean we are not doing the job," he said.

The corrections chief said the county hoped to open the center in about two years, once a 205-bed addition was built near the existing detention center.

The treatment center would be located in modular units recently installed near the jail to house work-release prisoners and relieve jail overcrowding. The jail, built as a 108-bed facility, held 198 inmates last week.

Drunken drivers and people convicted of misdemeanor drug charges would be jailed in the modular units, which would include classrooms and recreation areas.

Judges could assign prisoners to the center for programs of seven to 28 days run by the county health department, Mr. Rollins said.

The corrections chief said he was also considering forming a citizens advisory council for the jail. The group would help educate the public about the detention center, attract volunteers to work with prisoners and "serve as my eyes and ears and give me advice on the jail's operations," he said.

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