Maryland governor Lawrence Hogan signed an executive order on Saturday allowing the expedited release of hundreds of eligible inmates in an effort to enable social distancing and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within the state’s prisons.
Hogan’s order authorizes the Commission on Correctional Standards and the Maryland Parole Commission to expedite the release of eligible categories of inmates, including those who were scheduled for parole within 120 days and those who, because of their age, medical conditions or special needs, are more at risk for complications due to the virus than other inmates, so long as they were not serving time for a violent crime or a sexual offense.
It also puts in place certain safeguards against the potential spread of the virus from the inmates to the public by requiring that the eligible inmate be screened for COVID-19 symptoms before being released and that the inmate self-isolates for at least 14 days once released.
This order is not the first of its kind in the US; similar orders have been issued in other states.
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