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Baltimore District Court Reentry Project Celebrates Graduates
On August 25, 2017, Judge Nicole Pastore Klein presided over the second Baltimore City District Court Reentry Project (DCREP) graduation ceremony. Created last year by Judge Pastore Klein, the DCREP works to reduce criminal recidivism in Baltimore while offering the enrollees a viable path to productive and successful lives.
The project is based on the concept that promoting regular-income jobs contributes to the well-being of all citizens and establishes social stability. Through the program, eligible individuals with criminal records, who can face substantial barriers in gaining employment, have access to jobs and educational opportunities. The DCREP is recommended by both prosecutors and defense attorneys as an alternative to incarceration or as a condition of probation. The project has garnered the cooperation of members of the Office of the State’s Attorney, the Public Defender's Office, private defense counsel bar, the Department of Parole and Probation, pre-trial supervision, and specialty court programs such as the mental health, drug, and veterans court dockets.
The DCREP functions with the cooperation and active participation of Baltimore City District Court judges, who refer the participating defendant to one of the training and employment organizations and allow the defendants the opportunity to participate. Once a judge makes the referral to the DCREP, the defendant receives job placement opportunities and an agreed-upon court incentive upon successful completion of the program. For example, a judge may convert a supervised probation to an unsupervised probation, waive probation fees, or even end the defendant’s probation early. In addition, defendants who may have been sentenced to a minimal amount of jail time may have the chance to participate in the DCREP in lieu of jail time.
“The DCREP strives to reduce recidivism by helping people become productive members of society,” said John P. Morrissey, Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland. “This program offers a holistic approach because you cannot change the path you are on without addressing the underlying issues. When we send someone to jail, sadly, it means that all other options have failed,” Chief Judge Morrissey said in his congratulatory remarks to the graduates.
During the August 25 event, each of the 26 graduates received a framed certificate and had their photo taken with the judge who had referred them to DCREP. Chief Judge Morrissey said that he has encouraged members of the District Court bench to replicate the program in other parts of the state. In tribute to Baltimore City District Administrative Judge Barbara Baer Waxman for her ongoing support of the program, Judge Pastore Klein announced the creation of the “Barbara Baer Waxman Perseverance Award” for exceptional achievement by a DCREP program graduate. Judge Pastore Klein presented the award to a graduate who had overcome particularly difficult obstacles to complete the program and turn his or her life around.
Keynote speakers for the event were Obafemi “Femi” Ayanbadejo, former NFL fullback and member of the Super Bowl XXXV champion Baltimore Ravens, and Johnny “Porkchop” Doswell, on-air personality at WERQ FM 92Q, who discussed obstacles they had overcome in their own lives and encouraged the graduates to persevere when challenges emerge.
PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT:
(photos by the Maryland Judiciary)
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