July 08, 2019

Van Hollen, Benson Welcome Home Recently Pardoned Marylander Curtis Brooks

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, Maryland State Senator Joanne Benson, and other local leaders welcomed Curtis Brooks home to Maryland. Curtis was released last Monday, and returned to Maryland this week, after serving over 20 years in prison and following the commutation of his sentence by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

“Today shows the triumph of hope over despair and is a clear example of the power of persistence in ensuring that justice prevails. I am so pleased to welcome Curtis home, and I was proud to work with Senator Benson, the 202 Coalition, the Governor of Colorado, and all of our community partners to secure his clemency. During his time in prison, Curtis worked to better himself and displayed deep remorse for his actions – his case is a clear example of why it is simply wrong to sentence a minor to life without parole. I will continue fighting for reforms that make our laws – and our nation – more just,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Curtis’ return home is a blessing. As his elementary school principal, I knew Curtis was bright and talented. When I learned of his arrest, I knew I had to help him. Curtis’ clemency did not come without a lot of hard work. This was a team effort through and through, and I appreciate Senator Van Hollen and our 202 community for stepping up to the plate,” said Senator Benson.

At age 15, Curtis Brooks moved from Maryland to Colorado to live with his mother. Shortly after he moved in, his mother, who was there for drug rehabilitation, put him out of the house. As a result, he ended up homeless and relied upon a group of teenage boys that he met for a place to sleep. One evening, these boys decided to steal a car and one of the four shot and killed the car-owner. While Curtis did not shoot anyone, he was convicted under the felony murder statute for his participation in the crime and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole – despite the fact that he was a juvenile and had no prior record. Since he was convicted, two U.S. Supreme Court decisions have determined that it’s unconstitutional to sentence a juvenile to life without parole.

Senator Benson and Senator Van Hollen have fought for years for his sentence to be commuted. He was recently granted clemency by the Governor of Colorado, who recognized Curtis’ “extraordinary rehabilitation” and the fact that he has “taken full responsibility” and was “ready to advance to a new phase in life.”