SB-249 Inmates-Life Imprisonment- Parole Reform

SB-249

Inmates-Life Imprisonment- Parole Reform

This legislation is not about challenging this governors authority, nor his willingness to seek a solution to this existing problem. It is about the changing landscape of our criminal justice system, and facing the reality of those changes. When this body passed the 180 days statute in 2011, we all felt that it was a step in the right direction. We now know, especially when Governor O’Malley denied all the recommendation that came before his office shortly after the legislation took effect, that it was politically motivated. We are faced with the Willie Horton syndrome, no political figure will admit it, but it is a reality. This legislation will relieve the governor of that responsibility, and place it where it belongs, in the hands of parole commissioners who are experts in this field; they use a thorough process, vetting these individuals decades or more.

SB-249

Inmates-Life Imprisonment- Parole Reform

 

This legislation is not about challenging this governors authority, nor his willingness to seek a solution to this existing problem. It is about the changing landscape of our criminal justice system, and facing the reality of those changes. When this body passed the 180 days statute in 2011, we all felt that it was a step in the right direction. We now know, especially when Governor O’Malley denied all the recommendation that came before his office shortly after the legislation took effect, that it was politically motivated. We are faced with the Willie Horton syndrome, no political figure will admit it, but it is a reality. This legislation will relieve the governor of that responsibility, and place it where it belongs, in the hands of parole commissioners who are experts in this field; they use a thorough process, vetting these individuals decades or more.

 

When our advocacy began, there were concerns about public safety, as it should be.  However, since 2013 over 180 people who were serving parole eligible life sentences have been released under the Unger decision. With the exception of a few, they all have made successful adjustments back into society. With the assistance of Social workers, and case managers from the University of Maryland and the Public Defender’s office, we have a 99.7% percent success rate.

 

This is why it is important that the current parole system needs to change. As it exists, there is no incentive built into the system. Judge Motz once said, ‘Hope and the longing for reward lay at the heart of every human endeavor, in its absence there is no reason for anyone to change.’ The system originally had a parole expectance built into it: Starting at maximum security, progressing to medium, minimum, prelease, work release, family leaves, and eventually paroled. The spirit of the process has been broken, and this legislation fixes that.

 

An analogy of how it operated today, is an individual goes to college, passes all the courses, gets an excellent grade point average, and then are told they cannot graduate because the rules has changed. That is not fair, it is not just, nor is it human, and not what legislators intended with the statute.  

 

Without a change, Maryland will continue to spend millions to incarcerate an aging prison population, who could live safely in the community,(as those released under the Unger decision indicates) simply because of politics. Legislators are urged to consider passing this legislation, and do away with this mundane and archaic parole policy. We encourage you to spend our taxpaying dollars more wisely.

 

Walter Lomax, Executive Director

Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative

Waltermandalalomax@hotmail.com

mrji4phases@yahoo.com

mrji.org

mandalaenterprise.org

443-413-6076

Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment