Offender work program wins state grant $168,460 to expand volunteer service

July 21, 1996|By Erica C. Harrington | Erica C. Harrington,SUN STAFF

The Howard County Sheriff's Office has received a $168,460 state grant to expand a program that arranges volunteer work with nonprofit agencies for shoplifters, drunk drivers and other nonviolent offenders required to do community service.

The idea is to reduce the number of people held in the county Detention Center while requiring offenders to give back to the community after committing a crime, county officials say.

Between July 1, 1995, and June 30, 1996, the program referred more than 1,500 people to about 70 work sites throughout Howard County under the program. They logged 24,830 service hours, adding up to $198,600 in services, according to Sheriff's Office statistics.

The grant from the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services will let the Sheriff's Office handle even more referrals, said Amy Vennard, a caseworker in the community services section of the Sheriff's Office.

Vennard said the offenders and the nonprofit agencies benefit from the arrangement.

"The program provides hours to agencies that couldn't have some of the services because of budget cuts," Vennard said. "A lot of the offenders get reconnected with the community through this."

Stephanie Boughter, volunteer coordinator for the Howard County Tourism Council, said the 15 volunteers who have worked in that agency since last August helped with surveys, data entry and assisting visitors.

"[The program] enables agencies to get extra help, and it's a way for folks to make a contribution," she said.

Pub Date: 7/21/96

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