Maryland Legislature Abolishes Death Penalty

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Maryland Legislature Abolishes Death Penalty

Annapolis, MD - 3/17/2013

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By Dick Myers

The Maryland House of Delegates Friday made Maryland the sixth state in as many years to abolish the death penalty. The 82-56 vote followed passage in the Maryland Senate last week. The bill now goes to Gov. O’Malley for his signature. It was the hallmark of his legislative proposals this year.

Maryland Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D: Calvert) predicted the bill will be petitioned to referendum in the 2014 election.

Governor O’Malley yesterday issued the following statement on the passage of the Administration’s bill: “With today's vote to repeal the death penalty in Maryland, the General Assembly is eliminating a policy that is proven not to work. Evidence shows that the death penalty is not a deterrent, it cannot be administered without racial bias, and it costs three times as much as life in prison without parole. What's more, there is no way to reverse a mistake if an innocent person is put to death.

"I’d like to thank Benjamin Jealous and Gerald Stansbury of the NAACP, Senator Raskin, Senator Gladden and Delegate Rosenberg for their leadership on this issue, Ben Civiletti and the other members of the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment - and all of the members of the General Assembly who’ve worked to make this vote a reality. I’d also like to thank Maryland Citizens Against State Executions, and all of our faith leaders and coalition partners who’ve worked so hard to get this done."

The Governor’s office said he will make a case-by-case decision regarding the five inmates currently on death row.

Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown, a candidate for governor in the next election, released the following statement yesterday on the vote by the Maryland House of Delegates:“Today, the House of Delegates cast an historic vote towards ensuring a future for Maryland where we are free of a flawed, inaccurate, and biased death penalty system. As we replace the death penalty with lifetime sentences without the possibility of parole, we reaffirm our commitment to tough and appropriate punishments for those who are convicted of violent crimes. We’re going to continue our work in building a justice system that is both strong and fair, where our most critical responsibility is to keep all Marylanders safe. And we’re going to fight for a system where the search for truth, rather than a desire for vengeance, remains our goal. Today’s victory would not have been possible without the support and tireless efforts of a truly diverse coalition. Leaders from our faith community, advocacy groups, victims’ advocates, and citizens throughout Maryland who stood together and worked hard because they believed in a brighter, stronger future for our state. We are all grateful for their efforts.”

According to Brown’s office, the lieutenant governor, “a longtime opponent of the death penalty, played a central role in the Administration's efforts to pass this legislation. In January, he joined Governor O'Malley, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, various advocacy groups, and other state and local officials to rally for repeal of the death penalty as the Governor introduced the legislation. In addition to speaking at various community events across the state, he offered moving testimony in favor of the bill before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and the House Judiciary Committee last month, alongside the Governor, Jealous, and Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker.”

The NAACP released the following statement in response to the passage of a bill repealing the death penalty by the Maryland House of Delegates.

From Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP:  “Today we accomplished a milestone that the Maryland NAACP has worked toward for more than a century,” stated Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP.  “Thank you to Governor O’Malley, Lt. Governor Brown, and the bill sponsors and supporters in the House and Senate that showed the backbone and moral clarity to end this injustice.  Tomorrow we will wake up in a state where we will never again have to worry if someone is put to death because of their color, class or in spite of their innocence.”

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