ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)– Legislation that would reform prisons gets the support of two former Maryland governors.
Former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) and former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening (D) support a bill to undo what Glendening did 25 years ago when he put the power to determine parole for those sentenced to life in the hands of the governor, regardless of eligibility.
“And now I’m asked to run across the country and talk about various elements within criminal justice reform, different initiatives,” Ehrlich said. “You do see it as a very bipartisan issue in a very polarizing time in our country.”
“We enunciated the policy when i was in office that said life in prison meant life in prison, no parole, no exceptions,” Glendening said.
At the time, Glendening said, it seemed the right thing to do.
“We’ve now seen 25 years of what that actually means,” he said.
Now 25 years later, Glendening said Maryland is becoming a system full of elderly inmates, it is expensive to maintain, and offers no incentive for rehabilitation. Following the rules doesn’t matter because there’s no parole.
“I must say in all candor, I was wrong,” Glendening said.
A bill under consideration would repeal provisions that inmates serving life may be paroled only with the governor’s approval and establish parole commissioners to provide recommendations, prescribe parole and set conditions for supervision.
“If I was in office right now, I would with the legislature to change that process including removing the governor from it,” Glendening said.
Gov. Ehrlich was widely praised for his corrections policies in office.
“What’s really interesting with regard to some of the things we did 10 years ago, a lot of governors and a lot of legislatures are now engaged in this great issue of our time,” he said.
Maryland is one of only four states that give the governor power to veto parole.
The General Assembly is also considering tough-on-crime legislation.