Baltimore, MD – Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced on Monday that her office would take advantage of the opportunity presented by the pandemic to reduce the black prison population in Maryland.
Mosby announced on Dec. 7 that she had hired a veteran public defender to consider releasing prisoners older than 60 who had served at least 25 years of their life sentences, The Baltimore Sun reported.
A judge slammed Mosby last year for a “blatant conflict” when she tried to vacate thousands of drug sentences, because Mosby is supposed to be representing the state.
The judge said the writ of coram nobis filed by Mosby would normally be filed by a defense attorney, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Now Mosby has hired her own public defender.
The prosecutor’s office will also considering releasing prisoners who have served at least 25 years for a crime they committed before the age of 18.
Mosby said that all of the prisoners must have documented medical conditions that make them high-risk for the coronavirus, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Critics have pointed out that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has said everyone 60 years of age or older is at higher-risk for the coronavirus.
All of the cases that are reviewed must be in the city of Baltimore.
The state’s attorney said she would file on behalf of prisoners who met those conditions to have them released based on an order made earlier this year by Maryland’s chief judge to help mitigate the spread of the pandemic in prisons, The Baltimore Sun reported.
But when she announced her latest initiative, Mosby didn’t even pretend that she was making the move because of the health threat posed by coronavirus.
She told reporters that she planned to redress mistakes of the past that caused “a disproportionate number of black men and women” to receive unreasonably long prison sentences, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Mosby complained that only 30 percent of Maryland’s population is black but 70 percent of the prison population in the state is black.
Her flawed logic assumed that the commission of crimes follows along the same statistical lines as the U.S. Census.
“Prosecutors historically have played a role and contributed to the epidemic of mass incarceration and racial inequality,” Mosby said. “We also have a responsibility to right that wrong.”
The state’s attorney announced she had chosen Becky Feldman, a former public defender, to review the cases of those prisoners who applied for release by completing an online application, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Feldman is supposed to consider the facts of the case, the feelings of the victim or the victim’s family, the inmate’s age, the length of the prison sentence, the inmate’s medical condition, and whether the prisoner has felt remorse for their crime.
“There is so much humanity, talent and kindness behind prison walls, and we cannot give up on people just because they are behind bars,” Feldman said.
She plans to ask for the releases under the April order by Maryland Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera that instructed trial courts statewide to identify and release prisoners at-risk for the virus who do not pose a risk to public safety, The Baltimore Sun reported.
More than 1,000 inmates in Maryland prisons have contracted the coronavirus since the pandemic began and 13 have died, The Washington Post reported.
More than 2,000 inmates have already been released from incarceration in Maryland under Barbera’s order.
Mosby said the total number likely to be released was unclear but highlighted the fact that each prisoner released would save the state money, The Baltimore Sun reported.