Prince George's County Council member Peter A. Shapiro (D-Brentwood) has introduced legislation that would require criminal offenders in rehabilitation programs in Prince George's to register with the police.
Shapiro said he is attempting to determine how many rehabilitation programs are operating in the county and where they are. He first proposed the idea after county officials discovered in May that a program was operating out of a Mount Rainier apartment complex without their knowledge.
"We have no idea of the extent of the existence of these programs in my district or in Prince George's County," Shapiro said. "I support these programs in general, but if they're out there, we want to know about them."
The bill would apply to juvenile and adult offenders from Prince George's County and other jurisdictions who have been ordered by a court to participate in supervised rehabilitation and housing programs in the county as an alternative to jail.
The legislation also would require the programs to register and to notify county police within 24 hours when courts send new offenders to them.
Shapiro said he discovered how little information the county had about the programs after two juvenile offenders from the District were shot to death in May in a Mount Rainier apartment complex where they were assigned to live as part of a court-ordered rehabilitation and housing program.
The teenagers, 17-year-old Tron Giovonnie Lindsey and 18-year-old Tyrone Wallace, had been ordered by D.C. Superior Court to participate in the 24-hour supervision program managed by Educational Solutions Academy Inc. The company operated 12 apartments for young men and women in the sprawling Queenstown complex.
So-called interstate compacts between the District and Maryland required the program to notify the Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice when the teenagers were sent to the Mount Rainier program.
Shapiro said the county also should be informed, which is why his legislation would extend that notification requirement to county police.
Leonard A. Sipes, a spokesman for the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation, said the state notifies local law enforcement agencies about child sex offenders getting out of jail or attending rehabilitation and about paroled offenders who live in "hot spot" areas targeted for special enforcement.
He said some information also is available on a computerized data base.
But the state does not always receive notification when courts send other offenders to alternative sentencing programs in Maryland.
"We know there's an awful lot of traveling of offenders between jurisdictions, which is almost impossible to track," he said.
Sipes said the state is in the process of creating a program to give local law enforcement agencies better access to information about offenders living in their communities.
Leonard L. Lucchi, legislative affairs director for County Executive Wayne K. Curry (D), said he is looking at whether the issue can be addressed at the state level.
"We want to review it and talk to Peter [Shapiro] first," Lucchi said.
County Council Chairman M.H. Jim Estepp (D-Upper Marlboro) said he supports the legislation, which was introduced last week and will be reviewed by a council committee this month.
"I support anything that would make our communities safer," he said. "The public has a right to know who is here, especially if they're coming from other places."
Shapiro said juvenile records would continue to be protected by privacy laws and not released to the public.
Under the legislation, the offender and the rehabilitation program would be required to provide the police with the offender's criminal record and place of residence.
The penalty for breaking the law would be a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.
Municipal police departments also would be notified if the offender were sentenced to a program within city limits.
Mount Rainier Mayor Fred Sissine said the legislation "sounds like a good idea."
"It should enhance our ability to work together," he said. "It's hard for us to do that at the city level if we don't know [the programs are] there."