Maryland Chief Judge Encourage's Courts to Consider Release of Vulnerable Inmates
On April 14, 2020, Maryland’s Chief Judge issued an order directing all judges in the state to carefully evaluate the health situation of any detained person who petitions the Court for release. In light of emergency conditions caused by the COVID-19 virus, and the threat that the virus could spread within the various Maryland prisons, jails, and detention centers, the Courts are willing to hear requests for early release from sentences, release from pretrial detention, and release from conditions of probation that require in-patient treatment. Our experience with these hearings indicates that hearings are typically held within 24 to 72 hours by telephone with the inmate’s presence being waived, or with the inmate participating by video feed from the jail. We have conducted several of these hearings and have emergency petition templates ready for filing for: Emergency Petition to Modify a Sentence for Early Release; Emergency Petition for Pre-Trial Release on a Bond; Emergency Bond Review; Emergency Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus; Emergency Petition for Release from a Rehabilitation Center; Emergency Petition to Recall a Warrant; Emergency Petition to Modify a Condition of Probation. This may have significant consequences, especially for inmates in the Clarksburg Correctional Facility, Montgomery County Detention Center, Maryland Correctional Training Center, Maryland House of Corrections in Hagerstown, Roxbury Correctional Institute, Howard County Detention Center, Prince George's Detention Center, among others.
As of April 14, 2020, the Courts appear to be evaluating each request in a case-by-case manner. The Courts are not yet releasing any and every inmate who asks to be released. However, this is an ever-changing situation and we are monitoring, every day, information from our contacts with the Courts, in the detention centers, law enforcement agencies, our current clients, fellow attorneys, and media reports. Factors that the Courts are considering in deciding to release an inmate include:
· The nature of the case; violent crime vs non-violent crime:
· Is there an alleged victim with an interest in the case?
· A prior medical condition of the inmate making the inmate vulnerable to COVID-19.
· The infection rate of the correctional facility.
· Whether the inmate is serving a sentence or is on pre-trial detention.
· If the inmate is serving a sentence, the expected release date of the inmate.
· The availability of other monitoring alternatives like home detention.
If an inmate has a prior medical condition that may make that inmate susceptible to serious consequences of getting infected with COVID-19 it can be very helpful to provide us with any medical records (or a letter from a doctor) documenting that condition. If you want to discuss filing an emergency request for release or emergency bond review, please call us at 301-251-9001. Since many of our staff are working remotely per order of Governor Hogan, please leave a message if you get our voice-mail. Someone will return your call shortly. You can also email us at email@example.com.