By Rachael Cardin

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Howard County is helping potential criminals stay out of jail by getting them the help they need.

That’s the goal as they implement a new way to reduce incarceration and steer people in the right direction.

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Instead of being handcuffed for minor offenses, Howard County is trying to put potential criminals on the right path.

“This program will enable police to offer an alternative that can address the root causes of criminal behavior misdemeanor offenses like theft, drug possession, and nuisance crimes could now land you in the ‘lead program’ instead of behind bars,” said Lisa Myers, Howard County police chief.

According to Calvin Ball, Howard County executive, substance use treatment physical and mental health support housing education and employment officials from the seven partnering agencies say this is a real help – instead of harmful charges that can get in the way of that person’s future.

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Those selected for this program will be offered an opportunity to change the trajectory of their lives without being saddled with the collateral consequences of the traditional justice system.

The state received a three-year grant, totaling 530 thousand dollars, but the state’s attorney says keeping people out of the courthouses and jails saves residents money all by itself.

Ball said this same program in other places has proven to reduce a person’s tendency to re-offend by 60 percent –which totals about $3,000 in taxpayer savings, per participant.

If interested in the program but want to avoid interactions with an officer, go to this website and click the last link. There is a list of resources you can use for help.

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Rachael Cardin