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Senate Passes Parole Reform

Rachel Baye

With only a few hours left in this year’s legislative session, Maryland’s Senate passed a compromise version of a bill that cuts the governor out of the parole process for inmates serving life terms.

That bill was on its way to the House of Delegates Monday for approval before heading for Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk. A spokeswoman for the governor said he would “review it carefully” before deciding whether to sign or veto. He already has vetoed a package of police reform bills.

The bill increases from 15 to 20 years the time inmates sentenced to life must serve before they are eligible for parole while removing the requirement for the governor’s approval.

Republicans argued that the bill could potentially allow those who have committed the most heinous crimes to get out of jail after serving as little as 17 years by accumulating “good time” credits. Sen. Robert Cassilly, of Harford County, called it cynical.

“To put the word out that in response to a 40% increase in homicides, we are actually going to reduce the penalty? Really,” he asked. “That's a terrible thing to do, a terrible thing to do. It does not show any respect for life.”

The bill passed on a mostly party line vote.

Joel McCord is a trumpet player who learned early in life that that’s no way to make a living.
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