Glendening declines parole requests for 10 serving life

Governor maintains policy of freeing only elderly or dying inmates

January 03, 2003|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Gov. Parris N. Glendening has rejected a request by the Campaign for Justice Under the Law to grant parole for 10 prisoners who have been recommended for release by the Maryland Parole Commission.

The 10 prisoners are all serving life sentences, and Glendening has consistently refused clemency for them under his "life means life" policy. The governor, who has final say under state law on granting parole to life-sentence prisoners, has done so for six inmates, all of whom had terminal illnesses.

In a letter this week to Del. Salima S. Marriott, the governor's chief legal counsel told the Baltimore Democrat and her group that Glendening has previously considered these 10 cases and is not persuaded to grant parole.

"Please understand the governor made those decisions following a thorough review of extensive information provided to him by the Maryland Parole Commission and, in many cases, from other sources and interested individuals as well," Susan L. Bayly wrote in the later dated Dec. 30. "He remains convinced that his prior decisions were appropriate based on all information available then and now."

The letter was released to the media yesterday.

More than 2,000 of the 23,000 inmates in the Maryland prison system - about 9 percent - were serving life sentences in 2001, according to a Division of Correction report that year.

In 1995, Glendening announced that he would block parole for anyone serving a life sentence unless they were dying or elderly.

A day after Bayly wrote her letter, Marriott's group held a New Year's Eve vigil in Annapolis urging the governor to release the 10 life-term inmates whom Maryland justice groups call the "Glendening 10."

Marriott had not received the letter before her group's vigil, she said, but the Campaign for Justice Under the Law plans two more - one Tuesday, the eve of the legislative session, and one Jan. 13.

After Jan. 15, the group can make its case to Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who takes office that day, but Marriott said the group has no plans to do so.

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