US

Md. slowly freeing some prisoners as a result of 2012 decision from state's highest court

  • In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, freed prisoner Hercules Williams, who served 41 years in the death of a man in his living room, left, is greeted by a friend after being released from prison, in Baltimore. Faulty jury instructions given at trials held decades ago have led prosecutors in Maryland to release approximately 50 people, and some 200 prisoners could ultimately be released from Maryland prisons as a result. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

    In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, freed prisoner Hercules Williams, who served 41 years in the death of a man in his living room, left, is greeted by a friend after being released from prison, in Baltimore. Faulty jury instructions given at trials held decades ago have led prosecutors in Maryland to release approximately 50 people, and some 200 prisoners could ultimately be released from Maryland prisons as a result. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, freed prisoner Salim Sadiki, who served 37 years after being found guilty of rape, walks away from the courthouse in Baltimore with a friend after being released from prison. Faulty jury instructions given at trials held decades ago have led prosecutors in Maryland to release approximately 50 people, and some 200 prisoners could ultimately be released from Maryland prisons as a result. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

    In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, freed prisoner Salim Sadiki, who served 37 years after being found guilty of rape, walks away from the courthouse in Baltimore with a friend after being released from prison. Faulty jury instructions given at trials held decades ago have led prosecutors in Maryland to release approximately 50 people, and some 200 prisoners could ultimately be released from Maryland prisons as a result. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, freed prisoner Salim Sadiki hugs a family member after walking out of the courthouse in Baltimore, after being released from prison after 37 years. Faulty jury instructions given at trials held decades ago have led prosecutors in Maryland to release approximately 50 people, and some 200 prisoners could ultimately be released from Maryland prisons as a result. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

    In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, freed prisoner Salim Sadiki hugs a family member after walking out of the courthouse in Baltimore, after being released from prison after 37 years. Faulty jury instructions given at trials held decades ago have led prosecutors in Maryland to release approximately 50 people, and some 200 prisoners could ultimately be released from Maryland prisons as a result. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)  (The Associated Press)

Faulty jury instructions given at trials held decades ago have led prosecutors in Maryland to release approximately 50 people, and some 200 prisoners could ultimately be released from Maryland prisons as a result.

The state's highest court ruled last year that before 1980 judges statewide gave juries instructions that failed to clearly explain in part that prosecutors have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and that defendants are innocent until proven guilty. As a result of the court's so-called Unger decision, anyone who was tried by a jury before 1980 could get a new trial.

But given the length of time that's passed, that's tough. As a result, some counties have agreed to forgo new trials and grant some prisoners freedom if they agree to go on probation.