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Maryland Lawmakers Ban Governor From Blocking Parole For Inmates Sentenced To Life

Annapolis, MD – Maryland lawmakers have blocked the state’s current and future governors from having a role in deciding whether or not inmates who have been sentenced to life will be granted parole.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan vetoed the bill that was aimed at stripping him from having the final say, so the Maryland General Assembly voted to overturn his decision, The Baltimore Sun reported.

State senators voted on the measure Monday, and the House of Delegates held a vote Tuesday night.

Hogan has actually granted more commutations and parole requests than other governors in recent years, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Maryland House Republican leader Delegate Jason Buckel said he finds it “strange” that the state’s Democratic government leaders are “doing this now.”

“Governor Hogan is allegedly, from all evidence and research that’s conducted, he’s probably the governor who has taken this responsibility the most seriously,” Buckel said.

“Start thinking about those victims, start thinking about the reality that some people cannot be fixed,” Buckel said, according to WTOP. “There are some people — there are some situations — that cannot be fixed, and it’s our job to save those who can be.”

Proponents of the bill argued that removing the governor’s authority will make the parole process less political, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Under the law, which takes effect in January, offenders sentenced to life will be eligible for parole consideration after having served 20 years of their sentences, according to The Washington Post.

At least six of the 10 Parole Commission members appointed by the governor’s office would need to recommend parole in order for the request to be granted.

Due to the General Assembly’s votes this week, the governor will no longer have the final say in whether or not offenders recommended for parole by the commission actually receive parole.

State legislators also enacted a bill banning counties from establishing agreements with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold detainees in county jail facilities, WTOP reported.

The bill, known as the Dignity Not Detention Act, also bars police from inquiring about immigration status during traffic stops.

“The victory at the State House helps end the terror that immigrants face at the hands of ICE in stamping out private ICE detention and in cutting ICE’s access to immigrant driver data,” said Gustavo Torres, the executive director of CASA de Maryland.

“Better yet, it rejects the governor’s anti-immigrant policies, embracing the truth that immigrants are essential members of the Maryland family,” Torres added, according to WTOP.

Delegate Wanika Fisher (D-Prince George’s) said the bill will stop the state from “making money off of black and brown bodies.”

“Let me be really clear: a violation of an immigration law is a civil violation. It is not a criminal violation,” Fisher declared, according to WTOP. “We need to stop conflating that immigrant equals criminal because it does not.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin

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