One of the men convicted of the murder of Stephanie Ann Roper was transferred out of the Maryland Penitentiary in Baltimore and evaluated for an early release program, prompting a bitter complaint yesterday from Roper's mother.
Following Roberta Roper's public complaints, corrections officials said yesterday that Jack Ronald Jones had been rejected for the program at the Patuxent Institute in Jessup and is scheduled to be sent back to the penitentiary in May.
Roper, who has lobbied for tougher criminal laws and victims rights provisions since her daughter was murdered four years ago, said she felt betrayed because Maryland corrections officials failed to notify her that Jones, 29, was being considered for an early release program. He is serving two concurrent life sentences for the murder and rape of Stephanie Ann Roper.
Roper said she discovered the transfer through a letter received last week from an inmate at the Baltimore facility.
"I was stunned," said Roper. " . . . This is a betrayal by the criminal justice system."
Jones was transferred last September to Patuxent -- a facility that emphasizes rehabilitation through treatment and offers early release and furloughs to some inmates -- because of crowded conditions at the penitentiary, said Beverly Marable, a spokesman for the Maryland Division of Correction. Jones began the screening process in December to determine if he would be eligible for the Patuxent program, she said.
Under state law, judges, prosecutors, corrections officials or the inmates can refer prisoners to Patuxent. Marable, citing privacy laws, declined to say who referred Jones.
Stephanie Ann Roper's body was found in St. Mary's County in April 1982. The 22-year-old woman had been raped, beaten, fatally shot in the head and set afire. Jones' codefendant, Jerry Lee Beatty, 21, is serving concurrent life sentences.