Maryland’s longest serving female prisoner set to be released due to increasing covid concerns

Ben Sersen, REPORTER

Maryland’s longest serving female  prisoner, Eraina Pretty, is set to be released from Maryland correctional institute for women due to a sentencing review to eliminate the threat of covid-19 in prisons.

      The first case of covid-19 confirmed in the Harford County Detention Center, claimed spokesperson Christie Hopkins. As cases of the virus increase, release is only available for inmates who have served 25 or more years.

      Students of North Harford were asked the question, should inmates be subject to release because of the outbreak, the result was shockingly NO!. Student Ted Rush claimed “No, prisoners should not get off their sentences because of an outbreak. They should receive full health precautions to make it safe as possible for them to live out their sentence.” while student Brookelyn Priebe agrees, claiming “No, prisoners are in jail for a reason, the only reason they should be let out prior to their sentence is if an inmate has covid.”

      Pretty entered Maryland’s prison system at age 18 for murder, handgun, and other charges after pleading guilty to accessory charges as well as her part as accomplice in the murder of her former boss. 

     Pretty, 18 at the time, was in a relationship with a man under the name of Ronald Brown.

     On April 6, 1978, Pretty complied to Brown’s orders to participate in the robbery of her former place of employment, Brown insisted that since the owner had known her he would unlock the backdoor for Pretty, allowing access for Brown and his friend to rob the store.

      The robbery took a wild turn when Brown fatally shot the owner and all three were arrested. Pretty pleaded guilty to first degree murder under the assumption that a life sentence with a chance of parole would keep her locked away between 20-25 years.

     Pretty was sentenced to 60 years in September 1978, however, her sentence only lasted 42 years after the decision to free her came following a joint motion filed by University of Maryland attorneys Lila Meadows and Leigh Goodmark and the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Sentencing Review Unit, represented by Deputy State’s Attorney Jan Bledsoe.

       Pretty made use of her time behind bars by earning her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Morgan State University, completed several computer education classes, worked for over 20 years as a data entry clerk for the Baltimore Braille association, and even assembled books in braille for the vision-impaired.

    Maryland governor Larry Hogan issued the creation of Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s sentencing review unit in an effort to remove high risk targets of covid-19 from prisons, these include prisoners over 60 years of age and/or prisoners who had been sentenced as juveniles and have served 25 or more years on their life sentence.

      Erina Pretty’s name was the second on the list of recommendations for release due to covid concerns after being hospitalized with the virus on April 23, 2020.

     “Ms. Pretty’s release was the result of many years of advocacy. We are grateful to Marilyn Mosby and to the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office, who ultimately agreed that Ms. Pretty was worthy of the mercy the court exercised in her re-sentencing,” claimed her attorneys, Leigh Goodmark and Lila Meadows, in a brief statement.

     Pretty was recommended twice for release on parole however both times she attempted, Maryland governors denied her of release. In 2008, parole commissioners first recommended her for parole after she completed a required risk assessment and psychological evaluation. She waited three years for the governor’s decision; in 2011, then-Governor Martin O’Malley denied her parole. In 2015, the commission once again recommended her for parole; this time, Pretty waited four years before receiving a denial from Governor Larry Hogan. 

     “Ms. Pretty has served 42 years in prison. She has not only redeemed herself but exemplifies the need for second chances in our criminal justice system and while we recognize the hurt and trauma that lives everyday with the survivors of this unfortunate incident, we remain committed to ensuring restorative support as they heal,” State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a statement.