A bill that would repeal the death penalty in Maryland appears to have the votes needed to clear the Senate, adding momentum to Gov. Martin O’Malley and proponents’ push for repeal.
But some prosecutors and other death penalty supporters say a repeal would only make official what is already true: Capital punishment doesn’t really exist in Maryland. The state has one of the most restrictive death penalty laws in the country.
Combine that with bureaucratic opposition from the governor and judges’ reluctance to impose the ultimate penalty, and even the most violent criminals are not likely to ever be executed, some say.
“I don’t want them to ever have the opportunity to do it again,” said Sen. Kathleen Klausmeier, D-Baltimore County, a supporter of the death penalty. “But as far as I’m concerned,” she said, “the death penalty doesn’t happen here in Maryland anyway.”
"With brother on death row, a sister waits,"is by Timothy B. Wheeler in the Baltimore Sun.
At the time of her brother's arrest and trial, Patricia Booth-Townes supported the death penalty — "an eye for an eye," as she put it. Even after her brother was sentenced to die, she says, she didn't waver. She just didn't believe he'd committed that heinous crime, despite the evidence presented in court.
But years later, while studying criminal justice at Coppin State University, she found herself researching capital punishment. She almost couldn't avoid it, she said, because her textbook mentioned her brother's case, which set a constitutional precedent for the use of "victim impact statements" in sentencing. She came to believe that the death penalty is unjust.
As lawmakers in Annapolis gear up for another round in the long-running debate over the death penalty in Maryland, Booth-Townes is a case study in how opinions on the issue evolve. While some lawmakers change long-held stances on the policy or reconsider in the face of intense lobbying, she offers a unique perspective. Relatives of Maryland's death row inmates are voices that are almost never heard in the General Assembly.
For nearly three decades, Booth-Townes has endured the anguish, anxiety and shame that's come since her older brother was convicted and sentenced to die for the killing of an elderly Pimlico couple. Now the 53-year-old Randallstown woman wants people to know about her family's pain.
Earlier coverage from Maryland begins at the link.