Quietly exiting prison, history

Arthur Bremer, who shot George Wallace in 1972, is released

November 10, 2007|By Greg Garland | Greg Garland,Sun reporter

Avoiding the glare of a media spotlight he once craved, Arthur H. Bremer was quietly released from a state prison in Hagerstown in the predawn hours yesterday - 35 years after shooting and paralyzing former Alabama Gov. George Wallace at a 1972 campaign rally in Maryland.

Rick Binetti, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said Bremer will stay in Maryland but would not say where he will reside.

"The department feels that the public's interest is best served by Arthur Bremer having the time to acclimate to today's world at his own pace, and also with anonymity," Binetti said.

As a condition of his release, Bremer must wear an electronic monitor that will let authorities track his movements. He also must avoid elected officials and candidates running for political office, Binetti said.

Bremer, who is from Wisconsin, has no family in Maryland. His parents died while he was in prison, and siblings who live in other states have been unwilling to take him in.

Maryland authorities said in August that they were seeking to place him in transitional housing - such as a halfway house - in a rural part of the state.

Maryland Parole Commission Chairman David R. Blumberg said Bremer put his time to good use, noting that he was a model prisoner who worked in the library and as a tutor.

"My sense of him is that he is very different at 57 than he was at 22 when he entered our system," Blumberg said yesterday.

He said Bremer "aggressively disdains" the kind of publicity that he was seeking when he shot and wounded Wallace and three others, including a Secret Service agent, in 1972 at a Laurel shopping mall.

In journal entries that came out at his trial, Bremer wrote that he had stalked President Richard M. Nixon and wanted to make a "statement of my manhood for the world to see." He later switched to Wallace, a less well-guarded target than a sitting president.

The shooting forced Wallace, the one-time segregationist, to abandon his maverick bid to become the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. He died in 1998.

Blumberg said that Bremer has rejected numerous interview requests during his years in prison.

Bremer did not respond to a written request from The Sun this year seeking an interview.

At the Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown, where he served most of his time, Bremer was known as a "quiet person" who followed the rules, Blumberg said.

Nevertheless, Blumberg said, "he had people he spoke to, staff and inmates. He kept to himself probably more than the average person. Being quiet and keeping a low profile in a prison, that's a very good thing."

He said any inmate leaving prison after 35 years would face a difficult adjustment because of the changes to technology and other facets of society during that time. "He was driving a 1967 blue Rambler" when he was arrested, Blumberg noted.

As for Bremer's prospects, Blumberg said, "I think he has people who actually do care about him. We want him to succeed. We want every releasee to succeed."

Bremer's infraction-free stay in the prison system won him an early release after serving roughly two-thirds of his 53-year prison sentence.

Like most other states, Maryland law provides inmates with an incentive for good behavior in the form of credits toward early release. By law, the state was required to release Bremer yesterday.

While Bremer's confinement has come to an end, Blumberg said, he will continue to be supervised by parole and probation agents until his sentence is officially up on June 15, 2025.

Bremer is required under the terms of his release to undergo a mental health evaluation and treatment, if necessary. And he will not be allowed to leave the state without the written permission of the Maryland Parole Commission, Binetti said.

Bremer's brother, Roger Bremer, who lives in Milwaukee, told The Sun in August that Secret Service agents contacted him last spring about the possibility of Arthur Bremer moving in with him in Wisconsin after his release.

"The Secret Service told me they don't want him around the Washington area," Roger Bremer said then. But he said he was wary of what his brother might be like after 35 years in prison and could not take him in.

greg.garland@baltsun.com

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