MARYLAND GOV. LARRY HOGAN HAS SIGNED ANOTHER EXECUTIVE ORDER GRANTING THE EARLY RELEASE OF AROUND 1,200 PRISONERS IN AN EFFORT TO SLOW TRANSMISSION OF COVID-19.
Signed Tuesday, the order applies to prisoners who are already up for release in the next four months or eligible for home detention. Priority goes to nonviolent offenders who are at least 60 years old, are medically vulnerable and have a record of good behavior. Prisoners must be examined for COVID-19 symptoms before their parole is approved, and inmates convicted of sex crimes are not eligible.
“To mitigate the effects of the spread of COVID-19 and protect the public health, welfare, and safety, especially of vulnerable workers or incarcerated persons at Maryland prisons, it is necessary and reasonable to implement protocols and procedures for transfer out of the State’s correctional institutions,” the order says.
The early release order came at the request of the state’s corrections secretary, Robert L. Green, the Washington Post reports.
The governor signed a similar order in April under intense pressure from public health officials and civil rights advocates, who warned that prisons across the state could become hotbeds of infection.
As of Nov. 10, there have been 1,039 coronavirus cases reported in Maryland prisons since March, according to the Marshall Project. Cases have risen sharply in prisons across the country this month, with Texas and the federal prison system hit especially hard.
Hogan signed the order amid rising coronavirus cases in Maryland. As of Thursday, there were nearly 172,000 reported cases in the state, a dramatic increase since the summer. Hospital beds in the state have rapidly filled up with coronavirus patients over the last two months, with 1,144 beds occupied Wednesday, according to state data. Fewer than 300 hospital beds were in use by COVID-19 patients on Sept. 20.
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