After 20 years in prison, this is how freedom feels to Linda Sue Glazier:
Wide-open spaces both beckon and frighten. Purses are strange appendages. There are too many cars on the highways, always coming too close. The silence is very, very loud.
Ms. Glazier had just turned 18 when she was arrested for participating in the murders of her adoptive parents, William and Dorothy Glazier of Cambridge. When she was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive life terms, she never thought she would walk the streets again.
That changed Dec. 29, when Ms. Glazier left the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women at age 38. Gov. William Donald Schaefer accepted her argument that rapes and beatings by her father led to the murders, after her lawyers filed the first clemency petition in Maryland based on a claim of sexual and physical child abuse.
Two weeks into freedom, Ms. Glazier's senses have not quite caught up.
"No matter how many people are around me, it's still quiet," she said yesterday during an interview at the Annapolis home of one of her attorneys, Frank M. Dunbaugh. "It just can't compare to the constant noise level in prison, 24 hours a day. It gets scary now when I hear little creaks in the house -- like, what is that?"
She'd rather sit in a small kitchen to talk than in a large living room. She had only a tomato juice for lunch, something familiar that wouldn't upset a stomach used to bland and cold prison fare. Food on the outside is often too hot for her to eat. She has not yet dined in a restaurant, aware that in prison, "You lose table manners. You inhale your food."
Ms. Glazier's release came after a persistent campaign by her lawyers and members of the Epiphany Episcopal Church in Odenton, whose congregation Ms. Glazier joined from behind bars.
Citing her record as "a model prisoner" and the community's support, Mr. Schaefer on Dec. 21 cut her two life sentences to 25 years. With the "good time" credits Ms. Glazier had accumulated in prison, she was released after 20 years, but will be on parole supervision for the next five years.
Her boyfriend at the time of the murders, James Ottie Greenwell, then 23, shot the Glaziers in September 1974 while Linda was in another room. She was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, however, because she helped Greenwell make the killings appear the result of a robbery. Greenwell also was convicted and remains in prison.
Defense attorneys for Ms. Glazier said they were not allowed to introduce evidence of abuse at trial.
Retired Judge Lloyd L. Simpkins of Somerset County, who sentenced Ms. Glazier, still thinks she should not be out because the murders were "unusually coldblooded."
But Ms. Glazier said she's ready to contribute to society by educating others about child abuse. Slowly, she has settled into life in the Odenton area with her new "family of choice" -- a married couple, their two children and two dogs Ms. Glazier met the couple through the church. Her walk-in closet there is larger than her half of the cell she shared with another inmate.
Next week, she plans to start looking for a job in earnest. She hopes to use the business degree she earned from Morgan State University while in prison. Finding an apartment will be put off for several months -- she has little money and has never lived on her own.
"I know I need to take little baby steps, even though it's going to scare me," Ms. Glazier said.
Time, maddeningly slow in prison, has quickened beyond measure for her. The feel of real china is a luxury, as is wearing black, a forbidden color in prison because it could look too much like a correctional officer's uniform.
While Ms. Glazier might find re-entering society strange and difficult, the help that awaited her when she stepped out of the women's prison two weeks ago far exceeded what most ex-inmates have available on the outside.
Besides finding a place for her to live, church members and other friends gave Ms. Glazier a fashionable new haircut and transportation. They arranged for free medical and dental appointments, and a year of free counseling.
Many long-time inmates, by contrast, leave prison with little more than the $25 they must deposit in their accounts when first incarcerated, plus any money they might have been able to save from jobs inside. Some get job training before being released, but not all.
The lack of preparation is particularly acute for prisoners with life sentences, like Ms. Glazier. For the past 18 months, prison officials have barred lifers from moving into work-release jobs to prepare them for eventual parole after one convicted murder killed an ex-girlfriend and himself while on prerelease, and another escaped.
"Most people, when they get out, they don't have that support that [Ms. Glazier] will have," said M. Beverly Nur, director of the Maryland Prison Renewal Committee, a group of families, friends and advocates for prisoners.
Ms. Glazier said the support of her "family" would keep her from failure, as would her own adaptability and faith. She started the new year with church that Sunday morning, after celebrating at midnight without champagne.
"Freedom is enough of a drug," she said.