Maryland judges will begin notifying out-of-state authorities before they send convicted felons for probation, parole or drug treatment, plugging a loophole that allowed some felons to go virtually unsupervised after they left Maryland.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) made the announcement yesterday, spurred by the case of a Prince George's County man who was accused of murdering a woman in Denver in February after he flunked out of a drug treatment program in the city. He had been placed there by a Maryland judge.
Since then, another Maryland man at the same Denver facility has been charged with armed robbery, and a third has been placed there, although he has not been charged with any crime in Denver. Colorado officials said they never received notification about any of the men.
In a letter to Colorado Gov. Bill Owens yesterday, Glendening acknowledged that the felons had been sent to Denver without authorities being informed. "This cannot be allowed to continue," wrote Glendening, who said he was "alarmed" by the practice. Both governors also spoke by phone yesterday.
In an interview, Owens (R) said he was satisfied with Glendening's actions. "I'm confident that no additional criminals will be sent to Colorado without notification," he said.
Glendening's announcement came after he consulted with Maryland Chief Judge Robert M. Bell, who told the governor in a letter, "There has been a failure of the notification procedures in these cases, occasioned by a lack of training, communication or both."
Glendening said Bell would inform Maryland circuit court and administrative judges of an interstate compact that allows parolees and probationers from one state to be sent to another but that requires the notification of authorities in the state where they are going.
In most cases, Maryland Division of Parole and Probation officials work with their counterparts in other states so that authorities know the whereabouts of the felons. Maryland exports hundreds of such individuals and receives hundreds as well. Maryland officials said such movement is common as felons relocate to where they are from originally or as they try to get away from past associates who might lead them back to a life of crime.
But in the three Denver cases, Maryland judges ordered the transfers and parole and probation officials were not involved, so no notifications were made, said Glendening spokesman Ray Feldmann.
A state court spokeswoman, Sally Rankin, said it was impossible to determine how many other felons had been sent out of state by Maryland judges in similar circumstances because no tally was kept of such cases. However, those cases will be tracked now, she said.
The problem came to light in February when Donta Paige, of Prince George's County, allegedly murdered Peyton Tuthill, 22. The case sparked outrage in Colorado, and the state legislature passed a law requiring treatment centers to notify authorities when they receive out-of-state felons.
Paige arrived in Denver in October 1998. Prince George's Circuit Court Judge Joseph S. Casula had suspended his 20-year sentence for a 1996 armed robbery and ordered him into drug treatment after Paige had written him a letter saying he was unable to get treatment at the Roxbury Correctional Institute in Hagerstown, Md.