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Maryland ex-offenders soon won't have to pay parole fees. Here's why.

Maryland groups celebrate elimination of parole fees for ex-offenders
Maryland groups celebrate elimination of parole fees for ex-offenders 02:10

BALTIMORE -- A bill passed during this past legislative session will eliminate parole fees for ex-offenders returning home all across Maryland.

"It is beyond the city of Baltimore," Greater Harvest Baptist Church Rev. Brent Brown said. "It is a statewide blessing."

House Bill 531, signed by the Governor earlier this month, will get rid of the $50 parole fee charged to people coming home from prison and a $100 fee charged for alcohol and drug testing.

The legislation was championed by the nonprofit BUILD and its sister organization Turnaround Tuesday.

The organizers say those fees are often hard for ex-offenders to afford.

"One of the top issues we heard over and over and over again was the impact of parole fees," Rev. Brown said. "So, we started organizing."

The organizations held a celebration on Tuesday at Greater Harvest Baptist Church in West Baltimore. It was not only to celebrate the passage of the bill, but also the opening of Turnaround Tuesday's third location at the church. 

Turnaround Tuesday helps people returning home from prison find jobs. 

"Data states that this zip code, 21213, has the highest rate of returning citizens," Turnaround Tuesday Director of Operations Shunbrika Johnson said. "So, guess what? It is with the utmost intent that we are located here."

Since it began 10 years ago, Turnaround Tuesday has helped 1,900 people find jobs with a 70% retention rate.

Alicia, who was hired for a job after going through Turnaround Tuesday's program in 2018 is proud to celebrate House Bill 531's passing.

"Since then, I have been given several raises anEx-Md two promotions and now I am a supervisor," Alicia said. "Six years ago, I wasn't sure how things were going to turn out for my life. Being released from prison after serving nearly 16 years and just about felling hopeless. However, today, I have a different story to tell."

House Bill 531 will go into effect on October 1.

Here's more information on Turnaround Tuesday.

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