It’s Time for Parole Reform

by Lauren Hill ’22

Recently, former Governor of Maryland Parris Glendening published an article in The Washington Post supporting parole reform in the state. Maryland is one of three states where approval from the Governor is necessary to grant parole to inmates. During his term in 1995 Glendening famously declared that, “life means life.” However, he now says he was wrong to deny parole even to those who have worked to redeem themselves and make amends to those they harmed.

Governors are not equipped to decide whether a not a person is eligible for parole. Decisions made by Governors are based on brief records that are not nearly enough to assess whether or not an inmate has been rehabilitated.  The parole commission should have the final say in granting parole, as they can do extensive review of the candidates, and their records and psychological assessments to decide if they are fit for release. Denial of parole to people who are sentenced to long terms destroys the hope of prisoners who may have truly taken steps toward rehabilitation. Governors are overburdened with the tasks that are required to govern a state. The added stress of deciding the fate of incarcerated people is  too much for one person to take on, especially when people’s freedom is at stake.  Maryland should work to unburden the criminal justice system, to ensure fairness and equity. Passing legislation to remove Governors from the parole process is a step in the right direction.