For the newest member of the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office, sentencing can actually be a positive start to the day.

Lindsay Barnhart, the community and diversion programs legal office associate, spent part of Tuesday morning in the courthouse for the sentencing of a drug treatment court participant. The moment marked the man’s completion of drug court — one of the diversion programs Barnhart oversees — and, hopefully, the start to a new chapter in life.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do, passed with flying colors,” Barnhart said. “It’s time to focus on the positive aspects of his life and move forward and start giving back to the community.”

Like the drug court participant Barnhart saw that morning, she hopes to see diversion program participants in a better light down the road.

To bring Barnhart on board to coordinate nine diversion/community programs, the state’s attorney’s office recently created a county-funded, full-time position.

“There has been a great deal of focus in recent years on alternatives to incarceration and addressing root causes of crime such as mental illness and substance use,” State’s Attorney’s Office spokesman Will Cockey said. “In having a full-time coordinator to manage our vast array of programs tailored to various populations, we expect growth and greater success moving forward.”

“With a growing number of programs, we saw a need for expansion,” Cockey said. “Adding a full-time position has two key benefits: centralizing all community and diversion program coordination and allowing that person the time to focus on growth. We believe that these programs serve an essential purpose of decreasing recidivism, reducing costly incarceration which saves taxpayer money, and improving public safety.”

Though Barnhart isn’t an attorney, she has experience in the legal realm. Previously, she worked as a Circuit Court clerk in Montgomery County and for an insurance defense firm in the Rockville area. Barnhart describes her new role as a liaison between treatment courts and prosecutors. She likened her job to that of a case manager.

In addition to drug court, she oversees mental health court, which is geared toward defendants with mental illness charged with low-level offenses who want to seek treatment as an alternative to the usual court process. She estimates mental health court has about 15 participants compared to roughly 30 participants in drug court.

There’s also a diversion program geared toward youth. Within the Juvenile Entry Diversion Initiative, known as JEDI, first-time youthful offenders undergo 90 days of community work and restorative practice programming aimed at keeping them out of the criminal justice system. In the end, those who successfully complete JEDI can keep their records clean. In 2020, the state’s attorney’s office saw 23 JEDI cases closed successfully.

“I really think people deserve a second chance,” Barnhart told the News-Post a little over a month into her new job. “I think that having programs established in Frederick County specifically kind of gives them that outlet that, you know, some other jurisdictions maybe don’t have to offer them. ... Sometimes people just need a little bit of help or a guiding hand to find their way.”

Barnhart also serves as a liaison and case manager for the Truancy Reduction Council, Youthful Offender Program, Drug Overdose Fatality Review Team, Substance Exposed Newborns Task Force, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, and Families Impacted by Incarceration Program.

Being involved in so many groups, Barnhart’s days are filled with court appearances, field referrals, meetings, background checks for potential program participants, and more. She says it’s the type of work she’s passionate about.

“I’ve seen so many people just go down the wrong path,” Barnhart said, leading her to wonder whether those people’s lives could have been changed if they had opportunities like what Frederick County offers.

She recognizes the cycle of charging and jailing a person over and over again may not be what’s best for them or the community.

“They need something to break that cycle and actually address the problem, whatever that problem might be — substance abuse, mental illness, a combination of the two — so that we can get to the root cause of it, and hopefully get them the treatment they need, so that they can stop offending and kind of get off that carousel of incarceration,” Barnhart said. “We want them to be productive members of the community.”

Though Barnhart says she’s still getting her feet wet and learning, she’s looking forward to the future.

“I’m excited about what the diversion programs can be in Frederick County,” she said. “I’m excited to expand them. I’m excited to work with the members of this community to offer Frederick County residents what they need.”

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter:

@MaryGraceKeller

(14) comments

artandarchitecture

Lindsay, the following is a great new book to read, written by a self-declared progressive-liberal (complete polar opposite of me) as to why focusing mainly on the drug addicted & mentally ill is a *guaranteed* recipe for total urban destruction.

San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities by Michael Shellenberger, Climate scientist and Berkeley, Calif., resident

"Shellenberger insists that big cities, particularly San Francisco, have been captured by a too-progressive ideology. City leaders have begrudgingly embraced the priorities of the activist class that staffs the various NGOs providing key services, including support for the homeless, the mentally ill, and the drug addicted."

https://freebeacon.com/culture/review-san-fransicko-why-progressives-ruin-cities/

jamesnee

I'm sure the vitality of Ms. Barnhart is uplifting in all cases.

artandarchitecture

The only thing that’s been shown to reduce crime is *harsher* penalties. Everything else is a complete waste of time & money. Has the uncontrolled crime of illegal alien sanctuary Montgomery County brought you up to Frederick?

public-redux

“ The only thing that’s been shown to reduce crime is *harsher* penalties.”

I’m gonna ask for a citation because I absolutely love your sources.

artandarchitecture

P.R. You really need official studies to prove to you that executed murderers do not commit additional murders? That those in jail for life without parole don’t go on to perpetrate more crimes against innocent people? That pedophiles isolated from kids don’t go on to molest more kids.

No soft-on-crime counseling/education solutions have EVER been shown to reduce crime. Looking at folks who have gone through these “diversions” programs vs those who haven’t, in 10 years time, both groups are equally criminal.

The article suggests the root causes of crime are mental illness & substance abuse. The root cause of crime is actually poor impulse control. (‘The Color of Crime’ Jared Taylor)

Some of the commenters here have made a hobby out of bickering; others have made it their full time job.

public-redux

So no citation? I’m disappointed.

gabrielshorn2013

You mean white supremacist Jared Taylor, A&A? That Jared Taylor?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jared_Taylor

Sometimes outrageous and false statements, such as your statements about vaccines need, no DEMAND a response. If you find that it is argumentative and bickering...tough. BTW, this story below is on you and those of your ilk who spread such BS:

https://www.fredericknewspost.com/public/ap/maryland-man-who-killed-pharmacist-brother-thought-he-was-killing-people-by-giving-covid-vaccines/article_c7fa3e96-32dd-5b8d-9518-eea5de9d2baa.html

artandarchitecture

P.R. - I don't wish to disappoint. The following is a very, very good vid (w/ references!) on criminality, research studies, + history, & just popped up:

PRISON WORKS! WHY WOKE POLICIES WILL RETURN US TO MEDIEVAL LEVELS OF CRIME - Dr Edward Dutton

https://www.bitchute.com/video/7hnZOG9ou5aG/

artandarchitecture

Yes Gab, that's the one! He does *great* thoroughly researched work, not just on crime stats, but anti-white discrimination. (Btw, what do you believe is a so-called white 'supremacist'?) Anyone who is white & unashamed about it? If so, I'm quite happy to be lumped in too!

Chicago Art Institute Tells White Docents: We Don’t Want Your Kind Volunteering Around Here - By Helen Raleigh

OCTOBER 15, 2021

The writer of this article is an unashamed Asian lady. In your opinion, does that make her a yellow supremacist? ✊

https://thefederalist.com/2021/10/15/chicago-art-institute-tells-white-docents-we-dont-want-your-kind-volunteering-around-here/

Crab0721

That may not always be the case. However as you know we have seen several times wh

gabrielshorn2013

Citation please? The "crime" of addiction is no crime at all, unless accompanied by violence. Why throw someone in jail for an even longer period if they have not committed a violent crime? Get them the help they need to turn their lives around, with the caveat that this program won't apply forever.

jth7100

Citation? You must be joking. A&A's assertion requires she stand up to retrieve it.

stjohn42

AFAIK that has *never* been shown to reduce crimes. Most criminals don't even plan their crimes, much less contemplate the penalties. They are as surprised as anybody when they find out they are looking at 10 years' hard time.

saogirl52

A²The drug court, youthful offender program, bad check diversionary program and other such programs have been operating successfully in Frederick County for umpteen years. This is not a new idea and it's been quite successful here for years. Get your facts straight before posting more racist dribble.

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