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Commentary COVID-19 in Maryland Justice

An Open Letter Urging Gov. Hogan to Free Eraina Pretty

Del. Charlotte Crutchfield (D-Montgomery), in purple, has led a letter signed by more than 50 lawmakers, urging Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) to release Eraina Pretty from a state prison. Pretty, the longest serving female inmate in the state, has contracted COVID-19. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Led by Del. Charlotte Crutchfield (D-Montgomery), 56 members of the General Assembly, including one Republican, Del. Kevin C. Hornberger of Cecil County, wrote to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) on Wednesday, urging him to release Eraina Pretty, the longest-held female prison inmate in Maryland, who has contracted COVID-19. Their letter follows:

Dear Governor Hogan:

We are writing to you to urge you to commute the sentence of Eraina Pretty, using the authority vested in you by Maryland Constitution Article II Section 20. Ms. Pretty was just 18 years old when she was sentenced to life in prison for first degree murder and has now served 42 years, longer than any other woman in the state. Recently, Ms. Pretty has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been hospitalized for a period of time due to related complications. Even if Ms. Pretty fully recovers from COVID-19, she will continue to be at risk in the correctional environment given her age and pre-existing conditions.

There are multiple ongoing campaigns to free Eraina Pretty, including a YouTube video.

We recognize that Ms. Pretty is incarcerated for first degree felony murder. Her sentence – life with the possibility of parole – reflects the seriousness of that crime. When Ms. Pretty was sentenced in 1978, there was no reason to believe she would not eventually be released if she met the criteria that was established for parole.

During her 42 years of incarceration Ms. Pretty earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Morgan State University. She has counseled and mentored young women and spends much of her time helping others and finding ways to show her growth and remorse. She has not had an infraction in 22 years. Though she was convicted of a violent crime, she is not a violent person. There is no reason to believe that if Ms. Pretty were released she would pose a danger to society.

Ms. Pretty will have full support to ensure she is successful when she is released. She will benefit from the support of Marian House, a yearlong residential transition program that provides intensive case management services, weekly counseling, job readiness and placement services. She will be welcomed into the home of her daughter and son in law, Kecha and James Dunn, upon the completion of the Marian House program.

Your issuance of Executive Order No.20-04-18-01 on April 18, 2020, was an encouraging step toward reducing the Maryland prison population in response to COVID-19. Furthermore, the steps you have taken during this crisis to keep Marylanders safe is appreciated. We are now asking you to continue and extend that same safety to Ms. Pretty by using your clemency powers to commute her sentence.

Delegate Charlotte Crutchfield, District 19
Speaker of the House of Delegates, Adrienne A. Jones
Delegate Gabriel Acevero, District 39
Delegate Curt Anderson, District 43
Delegate Darryl Barnes, District 25
Delegate Erek Barron, District 24
Delegate Sandy Bartlett, District 32
Delegate Lisa Belcastro, District 11
Delegate Benjamin Brooks, District 10
Delegate Jon Cardin, District 11
Delegate Alfred Carr Jr., District 18
Delegate Lorig Charkoudian, District 20
Delegate Bonnie Cullison, District 19
Delegate Debra Davis, District 28
Delegate Dereck Davis, District 25
Delegate Kathleen Dumais, District 15
Delegate Jessica Feldmark, District 12
Delegate Wanika Fisher, District 47B
Delegate Andrea Fletcher Harrison, District 24
Delegate Keith Haynes, District 44A
Delegate Kevin Hornberger, District 35A
Delegate Anne Kaiser, District 14
Delegate Ariana Kelly, District 16
Delegate Ken Kerr, District 3B
Delegate Marc Korman, District 16
Delegate Jazz Lewis, District 24
Delegate Robbyn Lewis, District 46
Delegate Brooke Lierman, District 46
Delegate Lesley Lopez, District 39
Delegate Sara Love, District 16
Delegate Maggie McIntosh, District 43
Delegate David Moon, District 20
Delegate Nick Mosby, District 40
Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk, District 21
Delegate Susie Proctor, District 27A
Delegate Lily Qi, District 15
Delegate Kirill Reznik, District 39
Delegate Mike Rogers, District 32
Delegate Sheila Ruth, District 44B
Delegate Emily Shetty, District 18
Delegate Stephanie Smith, District 45
Delegate Vaughn Stewart, District 19
Delegate Jen Terrasa, District 13
Delegate Ron Watson, District 23B
Delegate Melissa Wells, District 40
Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins, District 20
Delegate Nicole Williams, District 22
Delegate Karen Lewis Young, District 3A
Senator Malcolm Augustine, District 47
Senator Jill Carter, District 41
Senator Arthur Ellis, District 28
Senator Shelly Hettleman, District 11
Senator Benjamin Kramer, District 19
Senator Jim Rosapepe, District 21
Senator Charles Syndor, III, District 44
Senator Mary Washington, District 43


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An Open Letter Urging Gov. Hogan to Free Eraina Pretty