The following is a statement from Sonia Kumar, Senior Staff Attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland:
“More than 300 people in Maryland are serving parole-eligible life sentences for offenses committed as children. After holding nearly 200 parole hearings prompted by a lawsuit filed by juvenile lifers wrongly denied release, Maryland is paroling three people. During the same period, Pennsylvania has paroled nearly 200.
“As Governor Larry Hogan’s own actions and press releases indicate, under Maryland’s current parole scheme the Governor is free to decide to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, if it is politically helpful to do so. Among the many worthy Marylanders wrongly refused parole by Governor Hogan — most of whom are now in their 50s and 60s — is Calvin McNeill, who three years ago brought the legal challenge to Maryland’s broken parole system and has now been denied release three times despite recommendations by the Maryland Parole Commission that he should be released and his nearly perfect prison record. Mr. McNeill, who was incarcerated at age 16, is now 55 years old.
“As long as Maryland keeps the exclusive authority to parole in the hands of the Governor rather than the Maryland Parole Commission, people who have done everything to turn their lives around will be treated like political footballs. It is cruel — and a violation of the U.S. and Maryland Constitutions — to operate a system of parole in which actual releases are so exceptional and rare as to be newsworthy.”
Learn more about Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative v. Hogan here.