Dr. Meena Brewster

Dr. Meena Brewster, health officer for St. Mary’s County.

As an expansion to the St. Mary’s Detention Center continues, officials are working on a “community corrections center” to be finished at the beginning of next year.

The center, a modular office building, will connect those involved in the criminal justice system, whose offenses are nonviolent, to health care, education and “other life needs,” according to a press release sent earlier this week.

“When it’s all put together, it’s a lot of space,” Maryann Thompson, assistant detention center warden, said on Tuesday, noting the Leonardtown jail has had issues with space that are being resolved with its expansion.

A separate expansion project, which has been in construction for nearly a year on the other side of the jail, includes an expanded women’s wing, a medical clinic and infirmary, an expanded laundry area, a fire alarm system, air conditioning and a new central control room. That expansion is expected to be finished in the early months of 2021.

The Community Corrections Center, a project of the county’s equity task force formed by health officer Dr. Meena Brewster, public schools’ Superintendent Scott Smith and Sheriff Tim Cameron (R) in late June, will link inmates and others involved in criminal justice with behavioral health and substance abuse programs to “stop the cycle of crime and poor health,” Brewster said in the release.

People who are “involved in the criminal justice system may experience worse health outcomes related to their limited access to health care services,” she said. “For some, underlying health conditions, including mental health concerns and substance use disorders, may contribute to their involvement in crime.”

Thompson said the new building will connect inmates and others to work release and work incentive programs, pretrial services and, possibly, parole and probation services.

The community corrections center is expected to be completed in January of 2021.

Twitter: @DanSoMdNews

Twitter: @DanSoMdNews