Md. Senate overrides veto of bill stripping governor of final say in parole
By: Steve Lash | Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer | December 6, 2021
Sen. Jill Carter, D-Baltimore, urges her colleagues to override Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of a bill that would remove the governor from controlling parole decisions for inmates sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. (The Daily Record/Bryan P. Sears) The Senate voted Monday to override Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of legislation to strip him and future Maryland governors of the final say in parole decisions for inmates sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
With the Senate's 31-16 vote, attention shifts to the House of Delegates, which could vote as early as Monday night to enact the measure that would give the appointed Parole Commission the final decision regarding parole. Currently, the 10-member body's authority is limited to making a recommendation of parole to the governor.
If enacted over Hogan's veto, Senate Bill 202 would also make inmates given life sentences eligible for parole after serving 20 years in prison, which could be reduced with good behavior credits to about 17 and a half years.
Sen. Delores G. Kelley, D-Baltimore County and the bill's chief Senate sponsor, told her colleagues before the override vote that the measure will ensure that the decision to release an inmate is made by a neutral board and not swayed by the political considerations of governors who might be "led by the headline of the day."
“Crime is out of control," Ready said. "We need to make a strong statement that we will not water down our laws."
The Democratic-controlled Senate's override of the Republican governor's veto was not unexpected; the Senate's initially passed the bill in April 30-17, one yes vote more than the 29 necessary for an override.
The Democratic controlled House's initial vote of 88-50 is three yes votes more than the 85 needed for an override.
In vetoing the bill in May, Hogan called the measure "nothing more than an unfounded and unnecessary power grab and another instance of the legislative branch seeking to diminish the authority of the governor."
Hogan added that he was the first governor in more than 20 years to have paroled an inmate who had been given a life sentence. In all, Hogan said he has granted 34 paroles and commuted 23 life sentences.
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