BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Giving parole where parole is due. The ACLU and other organizations are calling on lawmakers to give the state parole board final say over the release of inmates.
Pat Warren reports right now, it’s in the hands of the governor.
There are 2,100 lifers in Maryland, people who are serving life sentences that are eligible for parole, have been recommended for parole by the parole board, but can’t get past the governor.
“I’m 67 years old. I served 34 years, 10 months and nine days in the Maryland prison system,” said parolee Stanley Mitchell.
Mitchell is one of the faces in a bill to give the parole board final say over the release of prisoners. Right now, that power is in the hands of the governor.
“Governor Hughes was letting people out. Then you have a governor that came in and said, `No, I’m not doing it.’ You had Schaefer that did some. Then you had Ehrlich that did some. Then you had O’Malley say `I’m not doing anything’ so obviously it’s politics. You got recommended but you didn’t get released based on what governor was there,” he said.
Maryland is one of only three states where the governor can overrule a recommendation for parole and that’s where protesters say political preference takes over.
“We said to them, `You have life with the possibility of parole if you do X, Y, Z.’ And you do it and then politics comes in and says, `I’m not letting you out. That is not right; that is wrong,” said Senator Nathaniel McFadden.
James Grayson’s recommendation for commutation was denied but he was released under a separate court ruling.
“But had it been left up to the governor, I would never have been released. I would still be in prison sitting right now today,” Grayson said.
These former lifers intend to tell their stories when the bills are scheduled for hearings.
The bill is sponsored by Baltimore Senator Nathaniel McFadden and Delegate Curt Anderson.