Officials hinder release of inmate, group says

November 11, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

Supporters of Terrence G. Johnson, who is serving time for killing a Prince George's County police officer, yesterday said prison officials are making it difficult for the 31-year-old inmate to win the early release promised him last summer.

Mauri Saalakhan, a spokesman for Concerned Citizens for Terrence Johnson, said prison officials have cut the hours Johnson may spend on work-release. The group held a news conference yesterday in front of the Anne Arundel County Courthouse in Annapolis.

Under an agreement reached in August between Johnson and lawyers for the Division of Correction, Johnson is due to be released from the Jessup Pre-Release Center in February after completing 90 days of work-release.

To meet the work-release requirement, Johnson began working on Oct. 3, 12 hours a day Mondays through Saturdays, as a clerk for Columbia lawyer Charles J. Ware, said Mr. Saalakhan.

He said prison officials cut back Johnson's hours on Oct. 31 to 10 hours a day and barred Johnson from working Saturdays. Mr. Saalakhan said prison officials have not given any reason for the reduction.

Prison officials also have denied Johnson permission to take the Law School Admission Test next month, which contradicts the prison system's goals of trying to rehabilitate inmates, he said.

Maxine Eldridge, a Division of Correction spokeswoman, said Johnson is well on his way to earning the 90 days of work-release he needs to be released by February. She said his release date would not be affected by the change in hours.

"Terrence Johnson is doing fine, believe me," she said.

She also refused to discuss whether Johnson or any inmate would ever be allowed to take the Law School Admission Test, citing privacy rules governing an inmate's personal record.

Johnson has been behind bars since the June 26, 1978, shooting that left two Prince George's County police officers dead. He was convicted in 1979 of manslaughter in one officer's death and a handgun violation.

Sentenced to 25 years in prison, he has earned a bachelor's degree from Morgan State University.

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