March 19, 2020
Governor Larry Hogan
100 State Circle
Annapolis MD 21401-1925
Re: Executive Order to reduce populations in Maryland Correctional facilities to protect the
health and safety of incarcerated Marylanders
Dear Governor Hogan,
We, the undersigned organizations and constituents of Maryland, request immediate actions by
the Governor and the Maryland Parole Commission to protect vulnerable Marylanders who are
currently incarcerated in Maryland Correctional facilities. We call on you, the Governor of the
State of Maryland and the Maryland Parole Commission, to take the following measures to
expand the State of Emergency in order to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus within
Maryland prisons. By doing so, you will prevent loss of life and irreparable harm to our most
medically vulnerable incarcerated Maryland residents who do not pose a threat to society.
We are appreciative of the action that has been taken in recent days to stem the spread of
COVID-19 in Maryland by the Governor and the administration. A push for social distancing
and increased allocation of resources towards the health system will undoubtedly save lives
throughout the state. However, very little of the content of this state of emergency applies to
incarcerated individuals, who are the most vulnerable given their environment and their
inability to access resources and needs. This is significantly exacerbated by the historically
proven and well-documented lack of adequate healthcare provided by Corizon, the current
medical contractor. Given Corizon’s current lack of properly trained staff, they will inevitably be
unable to provide required healthcare and monitoring in an emergency of this nature and size.
To prevent loss of life and irreparable harm, we urgently demand that action be taken to protect
medically vulnerable incarcerated Maryland residents.
Governor Hogan, we urge you to issue an Executive Order that:
1. Expedites the parole procedures including reviews, notification of victims, hearings and
release proceedings for individuals over 60 and those at-risk and vulnerable individuals who
suffer from chronic illnesses (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, auto-immune disease, and
immunodeficiency), making them most susceptible to the COVID-19’s debilitating
consequences. Give immediate priority to those who fit the medically vulnerable criteria who are
set to be released on parole or mandatory release within the next five years, who do not pose a
threat to public safety, and who have secured a stable and confirmed home plan. Immediately
execute remote reviews and hearings as the capability to perform remote parole
reviews/hearings is already in place within the Maryland Parole Commission.
2. Orders Courts to designate hearings that could result in someone’s release from
prison/jail, including modification of sentences, as “emergency” proceedings that require a
hearing and that asks the Court for leniency in cases of medical vulnerability.
3. Expedites applications for and establishes emergency commutations for individuals over
60 and those at-risk and vulnerable individuals who suffer from chronic illnesses (heart disease,
diabetes, lung disease, auto-immune disease, and immunodeficiency) making them most
susceptible to the virus and debilitating results AND whose mandatory release is within the next
five years, who do not pose a threat to public safety and who have secured a stable and
confirmed home plan.
4. Orders Courts to designate any hearing that could result in someone’s release from
prison/jail, particularly modification of sentences or successive bail reviews, are “emergency”
proceedings that require a hearing.
5. Liberally utilizes and expedites processing of geriatric and medical parole, and urges
aggressive use of its recently-expanded authority to grant administrative parole per Md. Code
Ann., Corr. Servs. §7-301.1.
Maryland has the opportunity to emerge as a national leader in addressing the needs of
vulnerable incarcerated individuals during this worldwide pandemic. We call on you, Governor
Hogan, to immediately mobilize measures to reduce the incarcerated population to protect ALL
of their residents including both the incarcerated population and the correctional and
contracted staff working with this population.
Supporting rationale for this request:
The CDC and other healthcare experts have stated that the populations most at risk are those
who are over 60 years old and those with chronic illnesses, which include heart and lung
disease, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, and immunodeficiency. According to the Department
of Public Safety and Correctional Services, approximately 7,970 prisoners are classified as
“chronic care,” and many of them potentially fall under the category of medically vulnerable as
outlined above by the CDC. If we look to China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy, we know the
insurmountable difficulties that modern medicine faces with COVID-19. Maryland prisons
currently provide substandard health care to thousands of inmates statewide as records,
evidence and judicial proceedings have proven. It is inconceivable to think that Corizon Health
and the State of Maryland will be able to meet the health care needs of Maryland's prison
population once the coronavirus takes hold within the confines of incarceration.
In times of crisis, carceral systems are often not the first priority of government agencies. As
published by the National Institute of Corrections, “Correctional facilities, like other
governmental entities, are working on restricted budgets and have little to no funding available
to voluntarily implement emergency management practices. With the majority of prisons across
the country facing the same challenges... as other facilities that provide care, emergency
management has, and will continue to, fall to the side” (Savilonis 2013). We are unwilling to
allow this population of Maryland residents to fall to the side. Existing litigation, past lawsuits,
and previous experiences during States of Emergencies (e.g. Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy,
influenza and Spanish flu outbreaks) have shown that prisoners are typically an after-thought
when it comes to saving lives. We are also currently receiving news from China, which reports a
rapid spread of Covid-19 infections among prisoners from the Hubei Province. On March 17, the
first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in a New York state correctional facility and the numbers
are growing; this reality is rapidly approaching as the pandemic advances. We have the
opportunity to prevent repeating these mistakes.
We urge you to coordinate and take these necessary steps to prevent further health risks to your
incarcerated Maryland residents and the correctional facility staff and ask you to expedite the
release of a subset of the most vulnerable.
Sincerely Advocacy organizations and YOUR CONSTITUENTS,
Maryland Prisoners’ Rights Coalition
Johns Hopkins Incarceration and Health Justice Collective
NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland
Reproductive Justice Inside Coalition
Hopkins Medicine Engaging Homelessness
Doctors for America-Maryland Chapter
Interfaith Action for Human Rights
Save Our Children, Washington County
Baltimore Jail Support
Open Minds, Inc.
167 as of 3/25