- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 4, 2003

Although this newspaper has often been sharply critical of Gov. Parris Glendening's overall handling of criminal-justice matters, Marylanders owe a debt of gratitude to the outgoing governor for denying the politically-charged request that he pardon 10 inmates serving life sentences for violent crimes.
Del. Salima Siler Marriott of Baltimore, a prominent member of the General Assembly's Legislative Black Caucus, sent a December 13 letter to Mr. Glendening asking him to grant clemency to 10 violent criminals 9 murderers and a rapist who had been recommended for parole by the Maryland Parole Commission. Mrs. Marriott wanted the governor, who had previously overruled the panel in each of the cases, to reconsider his earlier decisions. In her letter to Mr. Glendening, she asserted that, by embracing a tough stance on crime in such cases, he was exposing minorities to unequal treatment from the criminal-justice system.
Mrs. Marriott, who has repeatedly introduced legislation to strip the governor of authority over parole decisions for inmates serving life sentences, complained in an interview with The Washington Times that Mr. Glendening's refusal to free these inmates was a "problem," and suggested that he had abused his authority by repeatedly overruling parole board decisions to release inmates serving life sentences. During his eight years as governor, Mr. Glendening, who declared upon taking office in 1995 that "life means life," has limited parole of lifers to 6 inmates all of them with terminal illnesses or other serious medical problems.
The brutal nature of the crimes committed by the "Marriott 10" explains why the governor was reluctant to free any of these criminals from jail. One member of the group Mrs. Marriott wants back on the streets is Mary Brown, 44 the longest serving female inmate in Maryland. Twenty-nine years ago, Ms. Brown was sentenced to life imprisonment for stabbing a 68-year-old woman to death in a fight over a raincoat.
"The governor is not persuaded to change those decisions [not to grant parole]," Mr. Glendening's chief legal counsel, Susan L. Bayly, informed Mrs. Marriott in a letter last Monday. "He remains convinced that his prior decisions were appropriate based on all information available then and now."
For her part, Mrs. Marriott has not disputed that any of the ten violent criminals in question eight blacks and two whites are guilty as charged. In an interview with The Washington Times this week, she said the crimes they committed are irrelevant. "What they did is not as important as that they went through a [parole] process," she declared. "They should not even have to go through the governor."
It would be difficult to imagine a more cruel and callous disregard for justice and public safety in Maryland. Mrs. Marriott's comments evince little concern for the rape and murder victims and their long-suffering families in these cases to say nothing of the public-safety implications of springing her 10 proteges from jail. Mr. Glendening was right to reject Mrs. Marriott's pleas for these predators, and governor-elect Robert Ehrlich would do well to follow Mr. Glendening's example.

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