Governor O'Malley today announced a $306,605 grant to the State's Attorney's Office in Prince George's County to launch an initiative aimed at criminal offenders who violate the terms of their parole or probation.
The grant will be used to create a new Collateral Offender Unit in the State's Attorney's Office, consisting of two prosecutors and two paralegals that will focus on identifying and prosecuting offenders who violate the terms of their probation. This new Unit, the first of its kind in the County, will handle Violation of Probation (VOP) cases exclusively -- providing additional resources to prosecute VOP cases in a timely manner.
"To create jobs and maintain our quality of life, we must continue to make every neighborhood in our state a safer place to live, work and do business," said Governor O'Malley. "This joint effort between our federal, state and local partners will remove dangerous offenders from the streets of Prince George's County, creating safer communities for our families and children."
The funds are being awarded to the County by the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) under the federal Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (BJAG) program. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin have been instrumental in their support of the BJAG program.
"This funding is a federal investment in keeping our communities strong and thriving. It will help keep Marylanders safe in their neighborhoods," said Senator Mikulski, who as Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science puts money in the federal checkbook for the BJAG program. "I will continue to fight to give law enforcement and prosecutors the tools they need to clean up the streets, protect our families, and fight crime."
"Marylanders deserve to live and raise their families in safe communities," said Senator Cardin. "Thanks to this new collaboration between federal, state and local governments, citizens of Prince George's County can rest assured that their streets are safer, and those who violate the law will face justice."
The Unit will be collaborative with the US Attorney's Office, the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation, local police, and other law enforcement and criminal justice agencies. Officials and investigators from all levels will share information and expertise to find and prosecute the targeted offenders.
"With this grant, Prince George's County residents are being provided with additional resources of protection from criminals," said Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. "I want to thank Governor O'Malley and Senators Mikulski and Cardin for their unwavering support in keeping Prince George's County communities safe. I am confident that Prince George's County State's Attorney Alsobrooks will fully utilize this grant and exceed its potential as an effective crime fighting tool."
The members of the Collateral Offender Unit will also coordinate their resources with the cases handled by other prosecutors in the State's Attorney's Office to ensure just disposition of cases. In addition, they will coordinate cases with the juvenile division when a defendant has either lied about his age or is on probation in both the juvenile and adult system.
"Today's grant award announcement reflects a deep commitment by Governor O'Malley, Senators Milkulski and Cardin, and all our state and federal partners to keep our communities safe. These additional resources will increase the effectiveness of prosecuting repeat violent offenders who violate their parole and probation and will dramatically reduce the number of criminals who continue to choose a life of crime. On behalf of the men and women of law enforcement and the people of Prince George's County - I thank our partners. Creating a collateral unit to prosecute persistent crime threats demonstrates not only a tough-on-crime approach but also a smart-on-crime strategy," said Angela Alsobrooks.
Under the O'Malley-Brown Administration, through the innovative use of public safety technology, unprecedented information sharing across borders, and strategic reforming of long-troubled public safety state agencies, law enforcement personnel throughout Maryland have driven crime to historic lows. The State's nationally-recognized Violence Prevention Initiative (VPI) works to identify the most violent offenders under the supervision of the Division of Parole and Probation (DPP). VPI Parole and Probation Agents have low caseloads, make frequent contacts with offenders, and have a low-tolerance for even minor infractions. In addition, Agents request warrants for violations of the terms of parole or probation immediately helping to keep high risk, dangerous offenders out of the community.