Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has rejected recommendations from the state’s Parole Commission that could have led to the release of seven prisoners age 55 or older serving life sentences for murders or rape.


The backlog prompted legislation in the General Assembly this year that seeks to force the governor’s hand on languishing recommendations. Under the bill,which narrowly passed the House but has not been acted on yet by the Senate, inmates who have served at least 25 years and receive positive recommendations from the commission would be granted parole if the governor does not act within 90 days.

Six of the recommendations rejected by O’Malley this week were for inmates who had been convicted of murder. The other was found guilty of first-degree rape. All seven had been sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.

The seven cases date from the 1970s or earlier. Six of the inmates were convicted in Baltimore, while one was convicted in Prince George’s County. The inmates, all men, are from 55 to 73 years old, according to parole officials.

None of the letters from O’Malley explained his rationale for rejecting the Parole Commission recommendations, and a spokesman said the governor would not be available to take questions Thursday.

O’Malley, who gained national attention as a tough-on-crime mayor in Baltimore before running for governor, has taken a harder line on commutations than several of his predecessors, including Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R).

Supporters of the commutations bill say it would keep governors from sitting on parole decisions for political reasons and would restore meaning to sentences of “life with the possibility of parole.”

Though he would not discuss the Parole Commissions’s deliberations on particular cases, chairman David Blumberg said several factors are weighed in making recommendations to the governor. They include an inmate’s educational advancement, ability to secure employment upon release, a living plan, a risk assessment, a psychological evaluation and level of remorse for the crime.