At a Tuesday morning press conference, Senate Finance Committee Chair Delores G. Kelley (District 10 – Baltimore County) detailed legislation that would alter Maryland’s parole system to remove politics from the process and leave parole decisions solely to the discretion of the Maryland Parole Commission or the Patuxent Board of Review. The legislation would be limited in scope and require the person paroled to have served 30 years, without the application of diminution of confinement credits.
In her remarks, Kelley stated: “Governors don’t need to step in to make a political decision.” “This (the parole process) is not a role that Governors should be involved in. “Two of our recent former Governors both Ehrlich (a Republican) and Glendenning (a Democrat) stated that change should have come in their tenures.” Kelley offered that the state should take the advice of these former officeholders and achieve this goal. “Change is long overdue,” she stated.
Walter Lomax of the independent advocacy organization the Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative echoed Kelley’s call for change stating: “Politics should be completely removed from the process. Maryland is spending millions of dollars to warehouse individuals when they could be safely released into the community.” House Sponsor Delegate Pamela Queen (District 14 – Montgomery County) followed: “It (this legislation) is fact based. We have to start to use restorative justice practices.”
Ricardo Flores of the Office of the Public Defender of Maryland noted the clear and strong support of his office stating: “The recidivism of this population is extremely low. The public safety balance that needs to be struck, is struck by this legislation. “
Scheduled to be heard today in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, Senate Bill 121 is being considered concurrently in the House of Delegates with House Bill 443 (which will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on February 19th).