JESSUP, Md. (WJZ) — The numbers are bleak. Over 60% of inmates released from prison will be re-arrested within five years.
Mike Schuh reports one program in Jessup is having a remarkable success rate.
In Jessup, you have a lot of time to think.
“Had I not come to prison, I’d have been dead,” said Sirlilar Stokes.
All of Stokes’ friends are dead. At 17, she used a gun for a gang revenge in west Baltimore.
“Them killing my best friend, I did some things I’m not proud of,” she said.
At 18, she was locked up for 50 years—and was still out of control. Assaulting a guard added two years.
“I did three years on lockdown,” she said.
So why are we showing you Stokes as an example of success?
State officials toured the Patuxent Institute. Across the country, 60% of inmates released back to the streets were rearrested with five years. Sixty percent.
Here? It’s three percent.
Stokes explains why it works: the inmate has to want to change.
“I’m here to get some help,” she said.
So instead of being in their cell all day, they work, learn a trade, go to school and get constant counseling. Break the rules and you’re out.
“We’re looking to expand that across the state,” said Dr. Randall Nero.
Compared to regular prison, it costs over $1,000 more per month per inmate—but, with fewer inmates returning, it’s much cheaper long-term.
Stephen Moyer, the new corrections secretary, says some of what is working here will be transferred to other Maryland prisons.
“We’re going to get back to doing the basics and using programs that work,” Moyer said.
In prison all her adult life, Stokes knows who has to do the hard work.
“A lot of people who’ve seen the positivity in me gave me a chance. They’re giving me a chance,” she said. “I can’t screw it up.”
While Maryland is about average when compared to other states in the number of crimes, our violent crimes rate is 36% higher here than elsewhere in the US.