A handful of states have eliminated the traditional money bail system, hoping to reduce their inmate population and avoid harming low-income defendants. But one recent study claims bail reform not only doesn’t always work but can prove counter-productive to its professed goals. In 2016, five Maryland state legislators, all opposed to the current bail system,…Read More
The United States District Court for the District of Maryland has dismissed a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) case brought against the United States over the 2013 wrongful death of a prisoner held at Federal Correctional Institution Cumberland, Maryland. The case was brought by the widow and sons of Stephen P. Gardner. They claimed that…Read More
By Christopher Zoukis In a highly controversial decision, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) commutes the sentences of four death-row prisoners to spend the rest of their lives in prison without the possibility of parole. An opponent of the death penalty, O’Malley has been fighting to abolish the death penalty for years. “In my judgment, leaving…Read More
An estimated 44,000 ex-felons in Maryland will have an easier time regaining the right to vote after being released from prison, following the end of a heated fight between the state’s governor and its legislature. Without a vote to spare, backers of bills (SB 340, HB 980) to allow ex-felons’ voting privileges to be restored…Read More
By Christopher Zoukis Maryland incarceration rates have been steadily growing in recent years, as has the average sentence length. In response, The Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council, made up of judges, lawyers, law enforcement, and lawmakers, was struck earlier this year to explore the reasons behind the booming prison population, and they are set to put forth…Read More
It feels like every week we are faced with new accounts of abuse against transgender inmates by prison staff. So it’s with guarded optimism we view a ruling handed down last week that represents a small victory. This past summer a Maryland judge agreed that the treatment constituted a violation of the Prison Rape Elimination…Read More
The confessed leader of a powerful gang inside the Baltimore City Detention Center was the government’s star witness at the trial of eight remaining defendants in widespread racketeering, drug smuggling, bribery, extortion and money laundering operation that resulted in criminal charges against dozens of guards, prisoners, jail workers, and other defendants. Tavon “Bulldog” White,…Read More
On May 2, 2013, Maryland became the sixth state in six years to abolish the death penalty, and the 18th state – along with the District of Columbia – that has rejected capital punishment. Maryland is the first Southern state to forgo executions in nearly half a century, joining West Virginia, with its 1964 repeal, as the only states below the Mason-Dixon Line without capital punishment on the books.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat who has been fighting the state’s death penalty with legislative efforts since 2007, and who signed the repeal bill, said in a press release, “Maryland has effectively eliminated a policy that is proven not to work. Evidence shows that the death penalty is not a deterrent, it cannot be administered without racial bias, and it costs three times as much as life in prison without parole.” He added, “Furthermore, there is no way to reverse a mistake if an innocent person is put to death.”
The death penalty repeal, which goes into effect on October 1, 2013, does not explicitly apply to the five men currently on Maryland’s death row. The state’s last execution took place in 2005 when Governor Robert Ehrlich was in office. Present law allows the governor to commute the condemned prisoners’ sentences to life without parole, and O’Malley has said he will consider doing so on a case-by-case basis.
Kirk Bloodsworth, a Maryland man who was the first person in the U.S. to be freed from death row based on DNA evidence, attended the signing ceremony for the repeal bill. “Twenty-eight years ago I was sitting in a death row cell, and it became clear to me that we could execute an innocent man,” he stated. Bloodsworth, who was wrongly sentenced to death for the murder of a 9-year-old girl, said at a news conference, “No innocent person will ever be executed in this state again.”Read More
By Aaron C. Davis
Maryland officials in recent weeks quietly removed the mug shot of convicted child molester Robert M. Haines Jr. from the state’s sex-offender registry.
They also deleted the Internet link to the former middle school teacher’s guilty plea to charges he abused a 13-year-old student decades ago. Haines’s physical description, the address of the cottage he lives in near Annapolis, the make and model of the car he drives: Everything the state had tracked for years to keep him from anonymity was erased.
Haines was removed not because he was exonerated of his crime. His information was taken down because of a recent ruling by the state’s Court of Appeals declaring sex-offender registration unconstitutional punishment for those who committed crimes before the registry began in 1995.
Under the ruling, Haines may be the first of almost one in four registered sex offenders who Maryland could be forced to scrub from its online database. Maryland officials are now bracing for the possibility that a wave of lawsuits following his case could require the state to delist roughly 1,800 of its 8,000 registered sex offenders, state records, e-mails and interviews show. State officials say they’ll forcefully challenge each suit.
And the fallout could go further. The state’s second-highest court is now weighing whether the Haines case should be applied to a broader group, beginning with a Montgomery County man who pleaded guilty in 2001 to preying on a 12-year-old Pennsylvania girl over the Internet.Read More
The Supreme Court recently ruled on a case that implicates serious constitutional issues that affect every person ever charged with a crime. In Maryland v. King, the Court heard argument on the State of Maryland’s assertion that it should have the right to collect DNA from any suspect arrested for committing a serious felony, not…Read More