Fourteen Maryland convicts were to be freed from prison today, courtesy of holiday commutations signed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer.
If the 14 men are anything like their 1990 predecessors, however, the odds are that at least some of them will end up either back in court or in prison or worse.
As part of a December tradition observed by Maryland governors for decades, Schaefer commuted the sentences of the 14, giving them early releases from prison by as much as 90 days before their jail terms were to end.
The prisoners, most of whom were convicted of drug violations and robberies, have completed special educational and work-release programs and are required to follow parole guidelines.
One of the rules governing the commutation selection process is that an individual has to have been due automatic release from prison within 90 days.
Of the 25 men whose sentences were commuted last year, 14 have complied with the conditions of their release and two are no longer on parole because their sentences have expired, according to records of the state Division of Parole and Probation.
But the rest haven't been as fortunate, according to the parole division. One man's parole was revoked and he is back in the custody of the state Division of Correction. Two are in jail awaiting trial on new criminal charges. Three are at home awaiting court trials. Two others have outstanding warrants against them and face jail -- if authorities can find out where they're hiding.
And Andre Burley, 29, of West Baltimore, who was serving a prison sentence on drug violations before he was released last December, was killed Sept. 16 in an apparent drug-related shooting, according to Baltimore police.
Witnesses told police that Burley was riding a bicycle in the 500 block of Gold St. about 4:30 a.m. when he was shot several times in the back by an assailant in a white car.
Burley, who lived on Orchard Street, died at the scene, police say. A small bag of crack cocaine was found near his body, police say.
Susan Kaskie, a spokeswomen for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, says last year's parolees who now face trials were arrested on drug violations, and none of the new charges involve violent behavior.
Kaskie contends that the recidivism rate has been relatively low among those prisoners whose sentences were commuted and says the recidivism has not given cause to conclude the program.