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MD Gov Makes 1,200 Prisoners Eligible For Early Release

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan made 1,200 prisoners eligible for early release, another action designed to slow the spread of coronavirus. The order assesses eligibility based on the age of an inmate and whether the prisoner is nearing the end of his or her sentence, reports the Washington Post. The action, suggested corrections secretary Robert Green, comes as Maryland is facing a two-week-plus stretch of record-setting numbers of new coronavirus ­cases, and as the governor takes additional steps to stem the spread. The early-release order allows corrections officials to move more quickly on parole and home-detention decisions, granting release to those scheduled to be released within 120 days of the order and those who are “otherwise eligible for home detention.”

The Parole Commission can accelerate parole for inmates who are at least 60 years old and have a good record and an approved home plan. Medical conditions, pregnancy and special needs will be taken into account for early release under parole and home detention. Sex offenders and those convicted of violent crimes are not eligible. Prisoners would be tested before they are released. Hogan issued a similar order in April at the height of Maryland’s first wave of coronavirus infections. For weeks, as coronavirus cases climbed, advocates pushed for a reduction in the prison population. Hogan initially said prisoners were “safer where they are” but backed away from that position a month later. As of Monday, 1,199 inmates had tested positive for the coronavirus since March. Thirteen have died. A total of 857 employees had tested positive for the virus and two had died. Sonia Kumar of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland said she was disheartened to see that the order does not prioritize “those vulnerable for medical reasons.”