Reach Out To Needy SeniorsResponding to two items in The...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 13, 1993

Reach Out To Needy Seniors

Responding to two items in The Sun, April 16 and 18, concerning "Status and Needs Survey of Older Persons":

I helped with that survey. I did 60 odd surveys. I found only two elderly living alone that shouldn't have been doing so and one eligible for services. I took care of those at that time. Most surveyed were affluent.

You can't take blocks of phone numbers and find the right people. It takes outreach, door-to-door, all over Anne Arundel County. . . .

Neither Carol R. Baker, director of the county's Department of Aging, nor County Executive Robert R. Neall know what outreach really is. For 16 years, I did outreach street by street, section by section all over Anne Arundel County, to some 360 persons a year. Dr. Baker stated "we have 32 programs." I would like to know what they are. . . .

In June 1992, the outreach operation was spun off. Three employees went to Information Assistance, one left for Nutrition and two are still there answering phones and giving out information and help to those who can find a way into the office. What happens to those who are blind, homebound, can't read or write, or simply just do not understand the forms? . . .

Let's get back to the survey to help down the road. Ten years from now, those who are affluent will still be affluent. Those that are aged, poor and sick will either pass away or still be poor. There is no substitute for personal contact and door-to-door outreach. Instead of downsizing the outreach, they should be looking in other areas in which no services are being rendered.

Anna Marie Dawson

Glen Burnie

What To Do About Detention Facilities

Your editorial of April 23 criticized County Executive Robert Neall for advancing the plan for a new detention facility despite questions raised by two correctional authorities: William Lamb in his analysis of population projections and Nicholas Demos in his recommendation for pre-release programs and a community corrections division.

In his analysis, Lamb concludes the county's 1990 facility master plan was based on invalid inmate population projections. He contends the 1990 plan did not consider the effects of a 1986 state law, which phased in increased minimum sentences for those sentenced to the custody of the state prison system. Lamb theorizes that as the minimums took effect, our detention center population swelled because judges were forced to sentence people locally rather than to the state. . . . However, the 1986 state law did not have the effect Lamb assumes it did. In fact, only moderate, consistent growth occurred in the population affected by the law as it was phased in. . . .

Lamb also questions the methodology used by the authors of the master plan in making the projections. In fact, the county's consultants calculated the growth populations in two different ways with the same results. Another consultant, in a report on the feasibility of expanding the Jennifer Road site, concurred with the projections.

Lamb also stated that the county criminal justice system has not done enough to accelerate the pre-trial process, causing protracted periods of pre-trial detention. In fact, Anne Arundel County has the most aggressive population management in the state. . . .

And, finally, though Lamb suggests the existing detention center be converted to a smaller capacity maximum-security facility, he makes no provision for siting the minimum-security pre-release center he recommends.

Nicholas Demos chaired the Detention Center Siting and Alternatives Task Force, whose recommendation for a detention center site was rejected by the County Council. In an April 21 letter to the county executive, he recommended restructuring the county's corrections function to include community-based options and pre-release programs for sentenced inmates.

Such a recommendation was also included in the 1990 master plan adopted by the county. But siting a minimum-security facility is likely to be difficult and, even if it were not, a pre-release or community corrections center will not reduce the need to house medium- and maximum-security inmates, most of whom are pre-trial. . . .

Even Lamb and Demos agree that the current jail is overcrowded, physically dysfunctional, and operating at well beyond its capacity. . . .

Unfortunately, siting controversies, the undesirability of spending limited resources and the on-going search for correctional panaceas have shifted the focus for solving the immediate problem. Precious time has been lost and the county still needs a new jail. Focus should return to replacing the Jennifer Road facility.

Richard Baker

Annapolis

The writer is superintendent of the Anne Arundel CountDetention Center.

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The jail situation in Anne Arundel County would be laughable were it not so tragic. . . . I certainly agree with William Lamb who has worked with the penal system for years and who believes, I am told, that there should be work release centers in North and South County. . . .

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