Message from the Director

The Department of Corrections is committed to protecting the citizens of Howard County by providing a secure, safe, and humane detention facility.  The Department is committed to adhering to the American Correctional Association and the State of Maryland – Maryland Commission on Correctional Standards.  An important strategy for community safety is addressing the program needs of those in our custody prior to their return to the community.  Education, health/mental health care, substance use disorder counseling, medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders, anger management, housing, employment, and transition counseling are offered both pre and post-release.


The Howard County Department of Corrections staff is motivated and trained employees who set and maintain high professional standards.

Information & Resources


Howard County Corrections History


Howard County’s original jail, in Ellicott City, opened in 1878 and was built to accommodate 12 inmates. In 1975, the Division of Corrections was established. Several years later, the Division of Corrections was established as a Department.

Due to overcrowding conditions and an antiquated facility, the Department of Corrections sought and received funding for the construction of a new detention center. The Howard County Detention Center, in Jessup, opened in 1983 with a rated capacity of 108 inmates. The new facility opened with 63 incarcerated individuals; within five years, the incarcerated individual population had greatly exceeded its rated capacity. The Department of Corrections again sought and obtained funding for the expansion of the detention center. The expansion was completed in 1994 with a rated capacity of 361 inmates.

In March 2005 the responsibility for booking arrestees was transferred from the Police Department to the Department of Corrections with the opening of the Central Booking Facility.

The Howard County Department of Corrections staff is motivated and trained employees who set and maintain a high professional standard. Because of their dedication and commitment to their profession and community, the Howard County Department of Corrections has maintained 100% compliance with the Maryland Commission on Correctional Standards since its inception in 1980. The correctional staff has numerous responsibilities and opportunities for advancement in their career. As correctional professionals at the Howard County Department of Corrections, staff can take pride in knowing that they contribute significantly to operating a department that is an integral part of the administration of justice and ensuring public safety in Howard County.


Community Service Program


If you have been court ordered to the community service program, YOU MUST BRING WITH YOU:

  • COURT REFERRAL PAPERS (Defendant Trial Summary or Probation Order or State’s Attorney’s Referral)

This form is not to be used for transfers to another jurisdiction.  Transfers must be handled through the Community Service Program’s Office in Howard County at the Serenity Center.

Walk in hours:  Monday-Friday 9:00 am- 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

The manager of the Community Services Program, Chip Thomas can be reached by phone at (410) 884-6088


Program Information


See below the many programs that are offered to incarcerated individuals:

  • AA/NA
  • Seeking Safety
  • Thinking for a Change
  • Anger Management
  • Empowerment
  • Peer Process
  • Reality Check
  • Strengthening Families
  • Guiding Good Choices
  • Domestic Violence
  • Reentry Mediation
  • Grief Support Group
  • LEEP (Life Skills Education Employment Program)
  • Religious Services
  • SBIRT (Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment)
  • ServSafe
  • CDL
  • Landscaping
  • Computer Class
  • Flagger Certification
  • Reentry Class
  • Getting Ahead
  • Toast Masters
  • CorrespondARTS Program
  • Financial Education
  • Meditation

Prison Rape Elimination Act


The Howard County Department of Corrections has a zero tolerance for sexual abuse.  No one has the right to pressure inmates to engage in sexual acts.  Incarcerated individuals do not have to tolerate sexual assault or pressure to engage in unwanted sexual behavior.  The policies of the Department of Corrections follow the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) guidelines.

An incarcerated individual should report any incidents of sexual abuse to a staff member immediately.  A sexual assault hotline is also available to assist incarcerated individuals who wish to report incidents of sexual abuse.  The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The hotline is operated by a victim advocacy organization that provides services to sexual assault victims.

The Howard County Police will investigate any allegations of sexual contact or assault involving staff or incarcerated individuals at the Howard County Department of Corrections. Also, medical attention and counseling will be made available.

Any member of the public may also report any incidents to an HCDC staff member immediately, or may call directly to the outside victim advocacy organization which will follow-up.

See 2023 PREA report

Family/friends may call the Shift Leader at 410-313-5200 then press “0”


Howard County Sexual Assault (Hopeworks)
24 hour hotline


Facility Information


The Department of Corrections is responsible for the operation of the Howard County Detention Center, the Central Booking Facility, and the Community Service Program and is charged with providing a safe and humane environment to those incarcerated, and under supervision. This is accomplished by good security and control of the inmates, meaningful treatment programs and assisting incarcerated individuals with their reintegration back into the community.

The staff of the Department of Corrections and partnering agencies are dedicated professionals who, along with many committed volunteers, strive to make the Department one of the best correctional agencies in the State of Maryland. The Department has established a practice of implementing “best practices” in the corrections profession. Also, the Department is utilizing evidence-based programming strategies in preparing offenders for return to our community.


Visitor Information


Click below to view information about:

  • Visiting schedule
  • the Commissary
  • Bond release information
  • Other inmate information

Policies and Procedures


Click below to see a list of our official policies and procedure documentation.


Publications and Additional Resources


View and download annual reports and audits and view additional resources related to the criminal justice system


Career Opportunities



The Howard County Detention Center provides a secure facility for incarcerating adults legally confined in Howard County, including pre-trial, pre-sentenced, and sentenced adult male and female offenders. The Howard County Department of Corrections has a staffing level of 153 employees with a rated capacity of 475. Positions available include Correctional Officers, Corrections Specialists, and Support Staff. For employment opportunities open at this time click here or visit Employment Opportunities under Human Resource website. The phone number to Human Resource is 410-313-2033. The Human Resource office is available Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM, except County's approved holidays.

The Central Booking Facility is responsible for the processing of all incoming adult arrestees and juvenile arrestees waived to adult jurisdiction in Howard County from various police agencies.



Security and Control: It is the primary responsibility of the Howard County Department of Corrections to provide for the supervision, safety, and control of inmates, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Department staffs three, eight-hour shifts each day with a Correctional Captain supervising each shift. Members of the security staff supervise and control incarcerated individuals, process the intake and release of incarcerated individuals, conduct rounds, counts, and searches, supervise incarcerated individual movement, monitor visits, and respond to all emergencies within the facility.

Training: Training is an ongoing process that enables employees to develop and maintain the skills necessary to perform their duties. All newly hired Correctional Officers attend mandatory entry-level training at the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Academy. Correctional staff receives a minimum of 18 hours of in-service training annually.

Honor Guard: This unit represents the department at various functions such as award ceremonies, graduations, and the Fallen Heroes Ceremony.

SERT (Special Emergency Response Team): Specially trained personnel who respond to emergency situations.


Program Services:

Administrative Records Section: Employees prepare the department’s operating budget, monitor expenditures, procure and remit payment for all purchases necessary to operate the Department, collect revenues, prepare payroll, maintain incarcerated individual work release accounting, compute incarcerated individual release dates, maintain inactive incarcerated individual records, and administer the computer network and the automated corrections management system.

Classification: The Classification Section interviews and screens newly incarcerated individuals for appropriate housing assignments, assist incarcerated individuals with special needs and/or problems, and evaluate and refer incarcerated individuals for special program placement.

Community-Based Programs: The Detention Center operates a Work Release Program. This program provides a transition into the workforce for incarcerated individuals convicted of non-violent offenses in preparation for their eventual release from confinement.


For a detailed description of career opportunities click here.


Margaret Chippendale
Margaret M. Chippendale
Director, Howard County Department of Corrections
Read Biography


Margaret M. Chippendale began employment with the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services on September 9, 1970, as a stenographer with the Division of Parole and Probation.  In 1978 she transferred to the Maryland Parole Commission as Assistant to the Parole Commission Chairman.

In 1990 Ms. Chippendale received her Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from Towson University.  Upon graduation she accepted a position with the Inmate Grievance Commission as Associate Director.

In 1992 she transferred to the Division of Correction.  Between 1992 and 2002 she held positions as Hearing Officer, Case Management Specialist and Executive Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner.

In 2002 Ms. Chippendale was assigned to the Baltimore City Correctional Center as Acting Facility Administrator.  Later that year she was promoted to Facility Administrator at the Baltimore Pre-release Unit for Women.  In 2004 she was transferred to the Jessup Pre-release Unit.

On September 1, 2005, Ms. Chippendale retired from State Service after 35 years of service.  She began employment with the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland as Manager of Child Advocacy where she managed Girl Scouts Beyond Bars at the MD Correctional Institution for Women, Baltimore Pre-release Unit for Women, Waxter Center for Girls and Sheppard Pratt Hospital.  She also facilitated anti-violence programs in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County schools.

In August 2008 Ms. Chippendale was persuaded to come out of retirement and returned to DPSCS.  She subsequently was promoted to Assistant Warden at the Maryland Correctional Pre-release System and later Warden at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women and then Warden at the pre-release system.

In February 2022 Ms. Chippendale accepted a position with the Howard County government.  She is the current Director of Howard County Corrections.

Ms. Chippendale has had extensive leadership and correctional training within the State of Maryland and at the National Institute of Corrections.  She is a four- time recipient of the Commissioner’s Citation for Excellence.  In 2019 she was named by WASHINGTONIAN MAGAZINE as one of the most powerful women in the Baltimore-DC metropolitan area for her work with female offenders.  In 2020 she was nominated Warden of the Year by the National Association of Wardens and Superintendents.

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