More than 2,200 people released from Maryland prisons under the supervision of parole or probation agents have been put in a Violence Prevention Initiative program, launched by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services in 2007 to keep a close eye on the most violent and frequent offenders, reports the Baltimore Sun. Before this program, infractions like a missed meeting with an agent or even a new arrest might go unnoticed or be ignored as mere technical violations. Authorities now remind parolees and probationers who are tagged as the worst of the worst that stepping out of line even by a nose hair can mean being thrown back into the slammer.
Vernon Skuhr, director of the state Community Surveillance and Enforcement Program, said that in years past, prosecutors and judges were reluctant to lock up offenders for anything but the most serious violation. His job, he said, “was more social work than law enforcement.” Agents now work side by side with many police departments; for detectives, the program gives them another way to haul in suspects for questioning or keep them detained while they finish their investigation. Of the 2,200 people in the initiative, more than 1,300 have had their parole or probation revoked. The numbers are going up fast. There were 304 revocations in fiscal 2008 and 1,059 in fiscal 2009. Judges don’t always agree that the violator deserves to be back in prison, frustrating parole and probation agents.