"Unblocking the Exit" Screening Held at Morgan State University

Dr. Anna McPhatter, Dean of the School of Social Work at Morgan State University, hosts the screening of "Unblocking the Exit" documentary. 

The event was held Saturday, January 9, 2016 from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the Morgan State University Student Center,

1700 E. Coldspring Lane, Baltimore, MD 21251 - Room 210

Read Walter Lomax's opening remarks and view the documentary below:

Good afternoon everyone, welcome to Morgan, and the screening of “Unblocking the Exit.” We started here in 2009, Dr McPhatter, graciously welcomed us into her house, we’ve  been back over the years holding Town Hall Meetings, and she continues to embrace us. So we humbly honor her for her vision, and her kind and giving heart. I am always humbled in your presence, and honored to be your friend, so thank you for welcoming us back again


Baltimore City is in crisis, and we must use every ounce of strength, knowledge, and wisdom that we have to help heal it. The riots of 1968 came as the result of Dr. King’s assassination, the riots of 2015 came as the result of the deaths of African Americans, both male and female. I would suffice it to say, almost half century ago, Dr. King lived a dream, if he were alive today, this would be his nightmare.


This event today does not directly address those issues, it does however, address a sense of responsibility. If we do not take responsibility in addressing any injustice, we are in effect complicit in it. This does not mean the destruction of anything, in fact it means just the opposite, it means organizing, and mobilizing responsibly in constructing forces to teach our young people a sense of responsibility, and how to stay alive to live another day. I’ve strayed just a little, so let me get back on point.


We’ve titled this documentary “Unblocking the Exit,” it is the trilogy of three major accomplishments: 2011 “Blocking the Exit;” 2015 “Still Blocking the Exit;” and 2016 “Unblocking the Exit.” None of this would have been possible were it not for your unwavering commitment to support this initiative. So, thank you, your efforts have not gone unnoticed.


We advocated for many years, (technically since 1993) for a change in the current policy. We’ve said that if the men and women serving parole eligible life sentences were to be released they would not be a threat to public safety, and would become assets to their communities, and not liabilities. We were fought with resistance until low and behold in 2012 the Unger decision unleashed the unthinkable, the release of parole eligible lifers. Since May 2013, over 125 have been released with not one single recidivist.  If you calculate the math; 125 X 38,000 a year, that’s $4,750.000 dollars. That number is even higher if you calculate since 2013.  What is even more remarkable are those who have been released through the courts without the Unger decision, we know that there are over 20. That’s another$ 760,000. I will name just a few of them that are not Unger cases: Johnny Jones, a rising star down at Living Class-Rooms; Glenn Watkins, just promoted to supervisor at McDonalds’; Wendall Griffen, received his CDL Lenience shortly after release and was traveling around the country, (he is driving local now); and Moses Fisher, provides transportation for those who cannot get around. There are many others, I am just in contact with them the most.


Now what is most telling about the people who has been released, of the 125 released under Unger, 24 of them had been recommended for parole by the parole commission, and denied in 2012 by former Governor O’Malley.


So now we are here today to organize, and mobilize for our final act. Some of you are award that we’ve initiative a Proxy Vote Initiative whereby we vote as a bloc vote in any election, so if you have not given us your contact information with your acceptance of participation please do so. There are over 21,000 people in Maryland’s prison system, and we are attempting to organize them all. This will give us the political backing we currently do not have. Former Governor Glendenning’s won the governorship by lest then 10,000 votes, if we can organize that may votes we can effectively decide an election.


In 1993 we were not given a snow ball’s chance in hell of getting legislation introduced, look at us now. It may take time, but as Dr. King once said: “We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability, it comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of people willing to make a change,” - Faith without good deeds is no faith at all-- Hope without action is like luke-warm acceptance from those who claim to care, which is more bewildering then outright rejection from those who don’t.”


I will close with; quoting our esteemed brother, Frederick Douglass:  “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”


Walter Lomax, Executive Director;

Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative

[email protected];

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