By Steven Truant
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
The Baltimore Department of Corrections Tuesday asked the County Council to amend a contract that assists inmates struggling with substance abuse.
Officials said the contract would extend services with Gaudenzia, Inc., which provides inmate treatment services and care after release. The goal of Corrections’ residential substance abuse treatment program is to reduce recidivism and help released inmates to rejoin the workforce, officials said.
“We’re not giving them more resources, Gaudenzia has a wholistic approach on addiction and we’re trying to move to a medicated assistance treatment program in the hopes of reducing recidivism,” said Gail Watts, Department of Corrections director.
Gaudenzia is a non-profit organization that aids in the field of addiction treatment and recovery services with 169 programs at 101 locations throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Washington D.C. The current recidivism rate is 45% and the DOC wants it reduced to 50%, officials said.
Under the proposed amendment, offered on Sept. 29, the Corrections Department would add three one-year renewal periods to the current seven-year, three-month term. Estimated compensation for the three additional one-year renewal periods would be more than $1 million. The estimated total compensation would increase from $2.2 million to about $3.3 million for the entire 10-year, three-month term.
Councilman Wade Kach questioned the contract extension, saying that the council does not have information about how successful the program has been.
“When we pass this, we are giving the administration the ability to renew the contract for three years without any input from us,” said Kach at the work session.
However, Watts explained that the money would come out of the inmate’s commissary funds and that the county could opt out at any time from the contract.
The council will hear the contract amendment proposal again at its legislative session on Monday, Oct. 21.