Health General Commitment (HG 8-505 and 8-507)

It is a terrible situation in this country that so many prisoners leave jail with the same untreated substance abuse illness that caused them to go to prison in the first place.

In Maryland a person serving a prison sentence can request that he/she be committed to an inpatient substance abuse treatment program in place of serving a sentence in prison. This is called a health general commitment. The law is contained in the Maryland Annotated Code, Health General Article, §8-505. Inmates often refer to this as an 8-505 commitment.

In order to obtain a health general commitment an inmate with a substance abuse problem must file a petition for an evaluation by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) with the original sentencing court.

If the judge signs the evaluation order then the DHMH will interview the inmate and submit an evaluation report to the judge. If the report recommends substance abuse treatment then the inmate must file a petition for health general commitment with the court. The court schedules a court hearing on the petition. The prisoner must appear at the hearing. The court has the discretion to grant or deny the commitment.

If the court orders the health general commitment then the DHMH must place the inmate in an inpatient substance abuse treatment program. It usually takes about six months from when the order is signed for a spot to become available in a program.

After successful completion of the program the judge brings the inmate back before the court and may modify any balance remaining on the prison sentence.

Andrew MacDonald has successfully obtained health general commitments for a number of clients. The MacDonald Law Office can help you, a family member, or loved one navigate the complicated legal process of obtaining a health general commitment in Maryland.