Talking Points:

Talking Points:

  1. In 1993 former Governor Glendening issued an executive order ‘Stating Life’ means life’. (He has since stated that his order was politically motivated) No one serving a parole eligible life sentence has been paroled out right in over 23 years. Since 1995, no lifer has been paroled in Maryland, even though more than two thousand people are serving parole-eligible sentences and several dozen have been recommended for release by the Maryland Parole Commission after extensive vetting and review.


  1. In 2011 legislators sought to correct this imbalance in the parole system by enacting legislation giving any setting Governor 180 days to make a decision on recommendations from the parole commission. Shorty after the legislation became effective Governor O’Malley denied all the recommendations’ sent to his desk, totaling 57. Maryland is one of only three states that require gubernatorial approval to grant parole to parole eligible lifers. This requirement wrongly politicizes the parole process.


  1. In 2012 a Maryland Court of Appeals decision (Unger V. State) mandated that anyone convicted by a jury trial before 1980 was entitled to a new trial. Since May 2013 over 170 people have been released under this decision, all were serving parole eligible life sentences. They are making successful transitions back into their communities. Some are case managers, and supervisors at their places of employment. Some are working with organizations mentoring at risk youth, some are attending school, one recently graduated from college, and at least seven have married their long time partners.


  1. It cost the state approximately $38,000 a years to house these individuals, as opposed to the $14,000 a year on parole or probation. When you calculate 170 X 38,000 dollars a year that’s 6,460,000 a year. Over the four years since 2013 that would be 25, 840,000 dollars saved. There is no cost in the fiscal note to implement for what we are seeking. (The one line in the statute requiring the Governor’s signature, for people serving parole eligible life sentences to be released.


  1. These people were sentenced with the understanding that they would have a meaningful opportunity for release if they were rehabilitated. Many were expected to serve less than 20 years, and have now served twice that much time, and more.


  1. Studies show that people serving life sentences have lower recidivism rates than those convicted of less serious crimes. The success of those released due to the Unger case demonstrates that lifers can return home without compromising public safety.


  1. The parole decision should rest with the parole commissioners who have expertise and a thorough process. Without a change, Maryland will continue to spend millions to incarcerate an elderly and aging lifer population who could live safely in the community, simply because of politics.


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