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Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Oversight Hearing

Thursday, March 30, 2006
Committee on the Judiciary Phil Mendelson, Chair Council of the District of Columbia John A. Wilson Building 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20004

Committee on the Judiciary Phil Mendelson, Chair Council of the District of Columbia John A. Wilson Building 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20004

Good Morning, Chairman Mendelson and Members of the Committee on the Judiciary.

I am Devon Brown, Director of the DC Department of Corrections  I appear before you today to present the DC Department of Corrections’ (DOC) budget request for fiscal year 2007 (FY 2007).

Accompanying me today are Patricia Britton, Deputy Director and Ronald Peele, the department’s Fiscal Officer.

As you know, the Department of Corrections is the epicenter of our city’s criminal justice system. Our capacity to effectively maintain a safe, secure, and orderly environment for staff, inmates and visitors is grounded in the application of sound operational practices, adequate funding, and strong support from District governmental leaders, advocacy groups and the community-at-large.

The FY 2007 proposed operating budget for the Department of Corrections is $138,531,268.40 ($138.5 million) and 891 full-time employees (FTEs), which is distributed among the following program areas:

  • Inmate Custody, 54.16 percent of the budget;
  • Inmate Services, 28.24 percent;
  • Agency Management, 9.23 percent of the budget;
  • Institutional Support Services, 7.91 percent; and
  • Agency Financial Operations, 0.47 percent of the overall budget.

Language has been inserted in the Budget Support Act which would provide $3.8 million for Department of Corrections’ enhancements should additional District revenues become available. This funding would fund two major components:

  • $3.3 million would be made available to purchase additional bed space and associated costs of food and medical care at the CCA/CTF. This funding is sufficient to reduce the DC Jail population by 100 beds. $525,000 would be made available to hire 11 additional Legal Instruments Examiners to help offset the heavy workloads impacting the department’s Records Office operations. The Department of Corrections has developed a prudent, hold-the-line budget consistent with the District’s overall fiscal constraints. Nevertheless, we plan to be innovative in our use of existing resources.

In FY 2007 the department will focus on:

  • Implementing measures to lessen the inmate population pressures at the Jail.These strategies include utilization of contractual beds at the CTF; reinstituting placement of sentenced misdemeanants in halfway house beds as appropriate; diverting inmates from Jail detention who are eligible for pretrial and pre-release programs; and reinstituting the use of electronic monitoring devices, including Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) systems to monitor misdemeanant placements in halfway houses which have limited security capabilities.
  • Instituting a community-oriented model of healthcare that will improve services for inmates and releases in the community. This will be achieved by aligning the goals of corrections and community health care. The model is designed to provide a continuum of health services from incarceration to release. Treatment plans for chronic and communicable diseases would be developed during incarceration and inmates would receive continuous services upon release. Coordination of all components of the continuum of care–such as primary care, inpatient care, specialty care, rehabilitative services and hospice care–would be the responsibility of one contractor. This new approach would incorporate quality control measures to ensure greater accountability and continuity of health care.
  • Redefining the inmate welfare fund so that it functions as a true revolving fund and comports with best correctional practices.The fund would be used to finance such projects as:
    • Reducing the inmate population by paying low bonds associated with indigent inmates;
    • Ensuring that appropriate release clothing (non-jumpsuit) is made available to all inmates upon release from custody; and
    • Providing all inmates leaving the jail with “release packages” containing referral to community programs and other support services.
  • Implementing a television-based “correctional education program” throughout the inmate housing units for viewing, which consists of videos that focus on health care, life skills, and historical events.
  • Establishing a Citizens Advisory and Resource Committee composed of private citizen volunteers representing a cross section of the community including religious, academic, business, ward residents and advocacy groups, who will enhance the department’s ability to form linkages to the community. Through the Committee, the community and the department will forge stronger partnerships resulting in increased awareness, interest and involvement in department programs as well as staff awareness about pertinent community needs, concerns and developments.

In closing, the department is committed to building an orderly and secure detention system, which adequately addresses the needs of our cliental. I am confident that the DC Department of Corrections will become a model local correctional system in every respect and that we will receive the support and resources necessary to fulfill this objective. I eagerly embrace the support of the Council, our criminal justice partners and the community in reaching this goal. 

Thank you again for the opportunity to testify before you today. I would be pleased to answer any questions that you may have at this time.