Senate head's son gets parole job Governor OKs Miller as $56,000-a-year commission member

July 16, 1996|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,SUN STAFF

The 29-year-old son of the Maryland Senate president has been approved by Gov. Parris N. Glendening for a newly created spot on the state Parole Commission, a $56,000-a-year job.

The appointment of Thomas V. Miller III to the six-year slot was announced yesterday by Bishop L. Robinson, state secretary of public safety and correctional services, after being approved Friday by the governor. The selection was made by Robinson.

Miller, who must be approved by the Senate over which his father has presided since 1987, would become the eighth member of the parole board.

When asked if the choice of someone so obviously well-connected would raise eyebrows, Robinson said, "Why should there be criticism, simply because he's the son of the president of the Senate?"

"You ought to look around in government and the private sector, and you'll find lots of sons of [important] people. He's not my son, that's for certain."

The Parole Commission decides whether to release eligible inmates from prison before their sentences are finished. It also hears cases involving parolees charged with violating the terms of their early release.

Neither Miller nor his father could be reached for comment last night.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. was an active critic of lTC Glendening, a fellow Democrat, when the governor was Prince George's County executive several years ago.

Robinson said he first met the younger Miller six years ago when the University of Baltimore law school graduate was an intern with the assistant attorney general assigned to the Division of Correction.

"I was impressed with him and told him one of these days there might be something for him here, to keep in touch," said Robinson, who said he wanted an attorney for the job and interviewed "a couple of people" besides Miller before making his choice.

"There is not one attorney on the Maryland Parole Commission, and I was desperately searching for an attorney," Robinson said. "And then Thomas Miller III's name came to mind."

Asked if perhaps other lawyers in Maryland might be at least as qualified for the position as the son of the Senate president, Robinson replied: "I don't know all the other attorneys in the state."

The parole position is a full-time job. To take it, Miller will have to quit his father's law firm -- Miller & Webster in Clinton. Before that, he served as an assistant public defender in Prince George's County, where he litigated felony and misdemeanor trials. He holds an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Maryland.

Miller will fill a position created this year when the legislature expanded membership on the commission from seven to eight.

The extra member was needed, Robinson said, "because of open parole hearings, which lengthens the time of hearings and increases the workload."

"When I arrived 10 years ago, the state's inmate population was a little less than 13,000. Now we have about 25,000, not counting Patuxent [Institution]."

Pub Date: 7/16/96

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