Andrew Parker, who was imprisoned at the Jessup Correctional Institution in Howard County, Maryland recently became the second prisoner in the state to die from COVID-19. Mr. Parker had been incarcerated since 1981 with little hope for parole due to the "no parole for lifers" stance taken by each consecutive governor since Parris Glendening.
However, Mr. Parker never lost hope and availed himself to every program that allowed him to make personal transformation, or simply help others. This included his involvement with the American Friends Service Committee's Friend of a Friend program, which has worked to foster the peaceful resolution of conflict and promotes reconciliation and healing inside the criminal justice system.
Mr. Parker's death is a great loss to his family and community. At age 61 he had underlying health issues, as do many older prisoners, and was not made safer by his incarcertaion. While the steps Governor Hogan has taken to release prisoners with four months or less to serve are a start, this is not enough to protect the health of our state's incarcerated individuals.
Like many deaths due to COVID-19, this loss of life was preventable. The State of Maryland needs to take a more progressive step and release people who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 and are serving long sentences. There is so much more that needs to be done to keep people behind bars safe from this virus, including implementing social distancing and providing protective gear for Maryland Correctional Enterprise personnel who are still working.
The American Friends Service Committee needs your help! Join us in asking Governor Hogan to release aging and vulnerable people who are serving long sentences in Maryland prisons. Fill out our letter form below to add your voice in demanding that Maryland's incarcerated individuals be treated with dignity and respect by considering their health and safety.