Release Aging People in Prison

RAPP (RAPPCampaign.com) promotes the release of people in New York State prisons who are age 50 and older, have served considerable time, and pose no threat to public safety. We urge the governor and other policy-makers to use existing mechanisms—parole, compassionate release, and clemency— to release these elders, and to pass the S.A.F.E. Parole Act to increase parole release rates for everyone.

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Women in need of freedom: Eraina Pretty, 56, incarcerated in Maryland

Nov 3, 2016 | RAPP Campaign

The Maryland Parole Commission recommended Eraina for release. That recommendation was denied in 2011.

From “Still Blocking the Exit,” by Walter Lomax, Founder and Director of the Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative, and Sonia Kumar, Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Maryland, with tremendous assistance from the people who are profiled and quoted throughout and their loved ones.

Eraina Pretty today

Eraina Pretty today

Eraina Pretty was 18 at the time of her arrest in 1978. She has now spent 38 years in prison. She is 56 years old. At the time of her arrest her lawyer told her she would serve 11 and a half years and then be sent to a pre-release unit.

Eraina Pretty in 1978 when she was arrested

Eraina Pretty in 1978 when she was arrested

She has served three times that long now.

Nonetheless, during her time, Eraina has taken advantage of educational programs and vocational opportunities, even earning her Bachelors degree in Sociology from Morgan State University. She speaks openly about how transformed she is after years of therapy working through the pain she carried with her from childhood abuse. She speaks openly, too, about being so wracked with guilt for her victims and hopelessness that she asked then-Governor Erlich to put her to death.

Eraina has been involved in service opportunities, like the Canine Partners Dog Program, training service dogs to help individuals with physical impairments, and an array of jobs, including, her current position as a clerk.

Recognizing these accomplishments, the Maryland Parole Commission recommended Eraina for release. That recommendation was denied in 2011, five years ago. Eraina has received numerous letters of support since then—including one from a Captain who’s known her for 21 years urging “serious consideration” for her release and describing Eraina as a positive role model for young and first-time offenders—“dependable, reliable, hardworking, conscientious, honest, peace-loving and courteous.” A Letter of Commendation from the prison warden states:

I commend you for your exemplary behavior and the self-discipline that you exhibit at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women.

I have been working in the field of corrections for over thirty years and I rarely write letters to residents. I am writing you because you demonstrate good behavior. In my opinion you will do well in society when you return.

Moreover, I want to thank you for being a positive example for the residents at the facility. You provide living lessons to them each day which helps me to manage a safe facility.

In your case I had to write and let you know that I find that you are very respectful and are always helping the facility move and grow in a good manner.

Eraina remains incarcerated to this day.

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