BALTIMORE — With many concerned about a second wave of the virus, state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby is launching a sentencing review unit in her latest efforts to reduce the prison population.
“COVID-19 has proven to be a crisis for the criminal justice system,” she said. “Our prisons and are jails remain a public health risk.”
Mosby said the unit will review cases of certain inmates, who have served 25 years of a life sentence.
The criteria include inmates over 60 years old and inmates she calls “juvenile lifers”— teenagers who received life sentences. She said these inmates do not pose a threat to public safety.
The state’s attorney also said her office will conduct a thorough review of these cases, looking at a variety of factors, including if the inmate has a medical condition.
Mosby added the victim or their family members in each case will also be a part of the process.
“This requires us as an office to create a process that are sensitive to their concerns,” she said.
But she said this unit will also address what she describes as an epidemic disproportionately affecting black Americans—mass incarceration.
She also blames prosecutors for contributing to the racial inequity in the criminal justice system. She said, 80 percent of the 2,000 inmates serving life sentences in the state are black.
“We have a responsibility to right that wrong,” she said.
Darrell Green, who is the founder of Deep Forgiveness, supports this initiative. Green created the organization after his brother was killed in 1988.
“My younger brother was killed over a pair of tennis shoes,” he said.
Green has since become friends with his brother’s killer who served 25 years in prison until Green testified for him to be released.
The two work together, sharing their story of forgiveness. He believes everybody deserves a second chance.
“It took three seconds y’all for him to change his life. Three seconds of anger. Three seconds of rage. He made a decision he can’t take back. Should he pay the rest of his life for that? I say no.”
The state’s attorney said the sentencing review unit is already looking at cases.
In a time where budgets are tight, she said this unit will not only save tax payers money, but also save lives.