Maryland organizations fighting for pre-release facility for women

MARYLAND – Activists in Maryland are urging lawmakers to override a veto by Governor Larry Hogan and bring what they say is a much needed pre-release facility to female inmates in the state. It’s a place, they say, would help these women become active members of society upon their release.

Monica Cooper with the Maryland Justice Program says part of making sure women who leave prison are prepared is giving them a place to learn how to re enter society. Right now, there’s no facility in the state where women can work toward that. But House bill 801 would have mandated a pre-release facility in Baltimore and would have welcomed female inmates from across the state.

“Why not allow women to go to a pre-release center where they can get back into their communities as a tax paying citizen, and not as a citizen that needs social services,” Cooper said.

The bill passed both the House and the Senate in the state before being vetoed by Governor Hogan, among nearly two dozen other bills. While the governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment, a letter from Governor Hogan regarding those vetoes said in part: “The economic fallout from this pandemic simply makes it impossible to fund any new programs, impose any new tax hikes, nor adopt any legislation having any significant fiscal impact, regardless of the merits of the legislation.”

But Cooper says that’s no excuse.

“Maryland cannot, and please quote me, continue to balance their budget on the backs of women that need services,” she said.

Elaina McWilliam with Out for Justice, another organization fighting for the facility, says helping these women would create a ripple effect and impact generations to come.

“Nearly half of the women who are incarcerated are mothers, actually more than half of these women are mothers to minor children,” McWilliam said.

Now, the groups are working together to urge lawmakers across the state to override the governor’s veto and bring women this help.

“If we don’t do something about it now, when will we do something about it?” Cooper said.

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Categories: Local News, Maryland