By Sonya Burke
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett toured the Montgomery County Correctional Facility on July 28 in Boyds.
The visit by the Obama administration officials was to highlight the programs going on inside the jail to help the inmates learn skills and get jobs when they are released.
Officials toured the education and training classrooms and they touted the American Job Center that is also housed within the 1,028-bed facility.
During the afternoon tour, the officials were able to talk to inmates and their instructors about the educational programs, learning materials, such as books and tablets, and the results.
Holder described Montgomery County as a national leader when it comes to these new approaches that are aimed at breaking cycles of crime and drug abuse.
“We hope to replicate [these programs ]around the country,” said Holder. “You are enhancing public safety.”
It was Perez who first told Holder about the innovative programs going on inside the jail to keep the community safer.
“Innovation abounds right here in Montgomery County,” said Perez, who noted these programs are a “win” for the inmates, the staff and the community.
According to Perez, one of the most effective strategies to reduce crime is to make sure people have a job when they get out of jail and he said having an American Job Center office in the jail is a remarkable investment to make sure the inmates have the skills to reenter the workplace.
Later this fall, Perez said he will be announcing a grant competition to replicate the Montgomery County model and its success at ten sites across the country.