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Prison officials, inmates, children and guests occupy the gym for the troop meeting. Since 1992 a program called Girl Scouts Beyond Bars at the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women in Jessup has been host to Girl Scout Troops for girls to spend bonding time with their inmate mothers.
Prison officials, inmates, children and guests occupy the gym for the troop meeting. Since 1992 a program called Girl Scouts Beyond Bars at the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women in Jessup has been host to Girl Scout Troops for girls to spend bonding time with their inmate mothers. (By Paul W. Gillespie, Staff, Capital Gazette)

In your article, “Maryland plans a coed training center for inmates heading home, but women’s advocates say its not enough" (Jan. 28), reporter Alison Knezevich writes that in pre-release, incarcerated people “... may participate in work-release and other programs in the community.”

The crucial question is: Which community should this first state-run facility be located in?

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Women in pre-release need to be in the communities they come from. When they complete their sentences, they need the connections they have made during pre-release to serve them — connections to jobs, to housing for themselves and their children, and to mental health care and drug treatment. If they are in pre-release in communities far from home, connections become irrelevant once they leave prison. Pre-release is most effective in the communities incarcerated women will return to.

Perhaps a pre-release facility in every county is more than the state can take on right now, but we should provide this for as many women as possible. A women’s pre-release facility should be located where the majority of incarcerated women are from so it can have the greatest impact — not only on the women and their families, but on the entire state. More than half of Maryland’s incarcerated women come from Baltimore City and County. The Baltimore region is where a facility will do the most good.

Molly Amster, Baltimore

The writer is Baltimore director of Jews United for Justice.

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