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Maryland releases 200 inmates sentenced prior to 1981

This piece originally appeared on BinghamtonHomepage


A 2012 DECISION BY THE MARYLAND SUPREME COURT RESULTED IN THE RELEASE OF NEARLY 200 INMATES SENTENCED FOR RAPE AND MURDER CONVICTIONS BEFORE 1981.

SINCE THEIR RELEASE A NEW STUDY SHOWS THEY HAVEN'T BEEN A SAFETY RISK DESPITE THEIR VIOLENT PAST.

NewsChannel 34's DREW PETRIMOULX REPORTS THE STUDY'S AUTHORS HOPE IT WILL LEAD TO MORE CHANCES FOR OLDER INMATES TO BE RELEASED FROM PRISON.

THE AVERAGE AGE OF THESE INMATES IS ABOUT 65 YEARS OLD. THEY SERVED ON AVERAGE ABOUT 40 YEARS BEHIND BARS.

NOW THAT THEY'VE BEEN OUT FOR ABOUT 5 YEARS.

ADVOCATES SAY THEY ARE PROOF THAT YOU CAN AGE OUT OF CRIME.

70 YEAR OLD STANLEY MITCHELL HAS A NEW LIFE.

HE'S AN ADVOCATE FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM AND WORKS WITH TROUBLED YOUTH.

EVERY WEEK IN WASHINGTON HE MEETS WITH OTHER ADVOCATES TO TALK ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCE BEHIND BARS, AND STRATEGY FOR CHANGE.

"I got life plus 18 years."

IN 1978, MITCHELL WAS CONVICTED OF BEING THE GETAWAY DRIVER IN A HOME BREAK-IN THAT TURNED DEADLY.

A CRIME MITCHELL SAYS HE DID NOT COMMIT.

NEVERTHELESS, HE LANGUISHED IN PRISON FOR DECADES.

"It's like you're in a deep hole and you cant see no light."

AFTER SERVING 35 YEARS, MITCHELL WAS RELEASE ALONG WITH 200 OTHER OLDER INMATES.

MARYLAND'S HIGHEST COURT RULED THAT JURY INSTRUCTIONS IN RAPE AND MURDER CASES PRIOR TO 1981 WERE UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

FIVE YEARS LATER, THE JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE IS OUT WITH A NEW STUDY FOLLOWING THE INMATES SINCE THEIR RELEASE.

"No significant impact or negative impact on public safety. a great amount of savings for Maryland taxpayers."

OF THE 188 INMATES ONLY FIVE RETURNED TO PRISON, THE SAVINGS: $185 MILLION TAX DOLLARS.

SCHINDLER WANTS TO APPLY THE LESSON NATIONWIDE.

"We can safely think about ways that we can have them back in our communities."

"A bipartisan criminal justice reform package working its way through congress allows more elderly and terminally ill inmates to apply for release."

BUT THE BILL FACES OPPOSITION FROM TOUGH ON CRIME LAWMAKERS AND COULD GET CAUGHT UP IN CONGRESSIONAL GRIDLOCK.

NOW 70 YEARS OLD, STANLEY MITCHELL IS LOOKING OUT AT A NEW FUTURE.

HE HOPES CHANGE ALLOWS OTHERS LIKE HIM TO LIVE THEIR FINAL YEARS OUTSIDE THE WALLS OF PRISON.

IN WASHINGTON, I'M DREW PETRIMOULX.


This piece originally appeared on BinghamtonHomepage
   

Posted in JPI in the News

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