ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — A bill being considered at the State House would take parole decisions out of the governor’s office, with proponents saying the Maryland parole board should be allowed to do its job.
There are over 2,000 Marylanders serving life sentences without the possibility of parole.
WJZ spoke to the family members of some of those who say they’ve served time, they’ve been rehabilitated, qualified for parole; but because of the governor’s office, are still behind bars.
Alfred Brown has qualified for parole over eight times; the governor’s office has denied it every time.
“I talk to him from time to time, and he’s in good spirits, but the family is not,” Tina Brown, Alfred Brown’s sister, said.
While Maryland has a parole committee reviewing cases, Gov. Larry Hogan has the final say in granting parole.
“It was politics that injected the governor into the parole process, and it’s politics that’s kept him there,” Keith Wallington, of the Justice Policy Institute, said.
House Bill 1219 is now being pushed to take parole decisions away from the governor’s office. A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate.
“This year we are going to pass legislation that will remove the governor from the parole process,” Maryland State Delegate Luke Clippinger said.
The governor’s office is opposing the bill, saying “Gov. Hogan takes his executive parole and clemency responsibilities very seriously.”
“If we can’t reform someone after spending 20-some years behind bars, what does it say about our system?” Maryland State Delegate Pamela Queen said.
Carl Brown served 38 years in prison. Gov. Hogan denied his recommendation for parole twice before he was released.
“Every time you go for parole or clemency, the governor’s office denies it,” Brown said. “So it doesn’t give a lot of people enthusiasm or hope.”
Since Gov. Hogan has taken office in 2015, the State’s Parole Commission says they have recommended 135 people for parole. Gov. Hogan has only granted parole for just 19 of them.