Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Maryland: Calls for Reform

The Baltimore Sun is taking Governor Martin O'Malley to task for whatever he is doing while 50 recommendations for parole submitted to him by the Maryland Parole Commission have been sitting on his desk. The Sun recognizes that the "politics of parole" are "terrible," and that O'Malley "made his name as a tough-on-crime Baltimore mayor."  A spokesman is reported to have explained that the Governor is giving the cases the serious consideration they deserve. Says the Sun:
The public often has little sympathy for convicts serving life sentences who are waiting for parole decisions. After all, they committed terrible crimes — most often, first-degree murder — to get in that position in the first place. But effectively eliminating the possibility of parole, whether as a matter of policy or by default, fundamentally changes the nature of the sentences the inmates were given. If judges had meant to give them life without the possibility of parole, they would have done so.
In response to this situation, the State's House of Delegates has passed legislation which would activate positive parole recommendations after 90 days, if the governor is too busy to address the issue. According to the Sun, this would put Maryland "in line with the vast majority of states, where decisions about parole are handled entirely by an independent, professional parole board." The State's Senate is also said to be "considering" a law that would "take the governor out of the process altogether." See story here.

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