December 7, 2022
187 Harry S. Truman Parkway
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Retired Baltimore Ravens Wide Receiver Jermaine Lewis celebrates
District Court Re-Entry Project graduates
BALTIMORE, Md. – On Wednesday, November 30, 2022, the District Court in Baltimore City celebrated the graduation of 21 people who successfully completed the District Court Re-Entry Project (DCREP). Baltimore City District Judge Nicole Pastore founded DCREP and presided over the ceremony for the program’s eighth class of graduates.
Judge Pastore began the DCREP in September 2016 as a court-focused, criminal recidivism initiative offering defendants an opportunity to participate in full-time job training and job placement programs as a condition of their probation or in lieu of incarceration. Approximately 216 participants have completed the program to date.
Jermaine Lewis, former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver, served as the keynote speaker and talked about his career after retirement, overcoming his battle with alcoholism, and he encouraged the graduates to persevere through life’s obstacles.
“I’m right here today because I have made some mistakes myself,” said Lewis. “Life is full of ups and downs and it’s how you deal with it that matters. Everyone must move forward and always try to think positive.”
“The District Court Re-Entry Project is a critical community resource offering help and hope to those who are working hard to improve their lives,” said Court of Appeals of Maryland Chief Judge Matthew J. Fader. “The program has a holistic approach, which aims to greatly reduce recidivism and foster personal accountability and achievement. I am proud of the graduates and the Judiciary personnel and partners who support this program.”
Through DCREP, a judge refers a defendant to one of 17 participating organizations that focus on preparing ex-offenders for the workforce. If the participant successfully completes the organization’s requirements, they receive an agreed-upon incentive. A judge may convert a supervised probation to an unsupervised probation, waive probation fees, or even end the defendant’s probation early. In addition, defendants who may have been sentenced to a minimal amount of jail time may have the chance to participate in the DCREP in lieu of jail time. The DCREP also has expanded to include pretrial services, which allow defendants awaiting trial the opportunity to acquire new skills and gain employment.
“Judge Pastore has demonstrated tremendous leadership in taking an idea and bringing it to fruition to the benefit of the participants and the Baltimore community,” said District Court of Maryland Chief Judge John P. Morrissey. “The stories of the graduates are truly success stories because this worthwhile program has connected people involved in the court system with existing resources, from counseling to job readiness training and full-time employment opportunities. I am proud of the Re-Entry Program graduates, the Baltimore District Court bench, and the government agencies, non-profit organizations, and businesses that have opened their doors to the Re-Entry Program.”
“The Baltimore City District Court Re-Entry Project is a way to offer defendants a viable path to a job or career, a productive life, and economic empowerment,” said Judge Pastore. “I thank the dozens of justice and program partners who are helping to improve lives in so many ways, from career training to educational and social services.”
Through the Re-Entry Project’s partnerships, participants have earned certifications in a variety of careers, including healthcare, hospitality, home improvement, culinary, cybersecurity, education, solar panel installation, lead paint removal, apartment maintenance, and electrical apprenticeships. One of the program’s main goals is to reduce recidivism by helping participants learn workforce skills.