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Boot camp for counties considered


An article in yesterday's Carroll edition incorrectly stated the counties studying a regional boot camp as a way to help ease jail crowding. Harford County will participate in the study; Howard County will not.

The Sun regrets the error.

Carroll County Commissioners agreed yesterday to apply for a federal grant to study the possibility of opening a tri-county boot camp to ease jail crowding in Carroll, Howard and Baltimore counties.

"To me, it's an alternative worth looking at for the county," said Warden Mason W. Waters. "There's no guarantee it will even get RTC off the ground."

A boot camp for offenders would help ease jail crowding, but would not erase the need to expand Carroll's 120-bed detention center, Mr. Waters said. The county has plans to add 80 beds to its jail.

James M. Dean, Baltimore County Bureau of Corrections administrator, is coordinating the effort to apply for a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to study the project.

If the grant is approved, each of the three counties would be required to contribute $4,000 to the study. With the $62,000, the counties would hire a consultant to recommend where the boot camp should be located, its capacity, what kind of prisoners would be eligible and other details, Mr. Dean said.

There would be no strings attached to the grant; if the counties receive the money, they are not committed to open a boot camp, he said.

Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown said he wants to meet with Carroll County judges to talk about the camp.

"We need some discussion with the judges about what are the options for [inmate] treatment," Mr. Brown said.

Mr. Waters said a boot camp would cost less than housing prisoners in a county detention center. Holding a prisoner in a boot camp could cost about $30 per day; confinement in a maximum security prison can cost as much as $75 per day, he said.

The only adult boot camp in Maryland is the state-operated facility in Jessup, which opened in 1990. It houses inmates age 35 and younger.

A tri-county boot camp would provide a rigorous physical regimen for certain prisoners, Mr. Dean said. Adult inmates age 21 or younger likely would be eligible, but it's possible that the age limit would be raised to 25 if a demographic study showed a need to do that, he said.

The purpose of the boot camp would be to move inmates, especially younger ones, out of crowded jails, Mr. Dean said.

The Baltimore County jail was built to house 650 inmates, but has held as many as 1,150, he said. The county is adding 216 beds.

If the tri-county boot camp is opened, one of every five sentenced inmates in the Carroll County jail probably would be eligible for incarceration there, Mr. Waters said.

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