Fairness for all lifers, not just juveniles

Please enjoy a letter to the editor of the Baltimore Sun by BrickHouse Books author and prison rights activist Walter Lomax. The letter was published in the Sun on 7/4/2016 and is excerpted below. Click here to read the full article. 

“Maryland traditionally had a parole expectation built into its prison system as a mechanism to control behaviors. People serving parole-eligible life sentences were paroled after serving 20 to 25 years. These programs were discontinued in 1993 following a tragic domestic murder-suicide by a participant, and state corrections officials moved all 134 lifers from pre-release to medium-security prisons. In 1995, then-Gov. Parris Glendening announced that no one serving a life sentence in Maryland would be paroled.

Without incentives for a change in behavior, the system fails. […] By relieving the governor of [the responsibility to grant parole], it would remove the appearance of politicization in decision making. This can be done by striking the sections requiring the governor’s signature. This is why legislators should seriously consider approving those changes. They will restore faith in the system, giving those incarcerated incentive to change and remove politics that unnecessarily waste taxpayers dollars that could be used other places. While we recognize that those who were juveniles are deserving of a second chance, we also recognize that all persons should be treated fairly in the criminal justice system.”

–Walter Lomax, Executive director of the Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative.

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