"Frederick senator says he'll vote for death penalty repeal," is by Michael Dresser in the Baltimore Sun.
Proponents of repeal of the death penalty have picked up a potentially pivotal vote in the Senate with the decision of Sen. Ronald N. Young of Frederick County to support an end to executions in Maryland.
In an interview last night, the previously undecided Young said he had made up his mind to vote for the bill backed by Gov. Martin O'Malley and to resist amendments aimed at thwarting full repeal.
"It's more costly to execute (murderers) than to keep them for life," Young said. He added that prison officials have told him that lifers frequently turn into model prisoners because they depend on the privileges they accumulate.
Young, a freshman Democrat, was identified last week by Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chairman Brian E. Frosh as perhaps the critical vote in reaching the 24 needed to pass the repeal bill. Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat, is a staunch repeal advocate.
Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, the sponsor of repeal bills in previous years, said she believes she will have 27 votes for the bill itself. The Baltimore Democrat said the challenge for death penalty opponents will be to stave off floor amendments creating various exceptions for certain types of murders.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, who supports keeping the death penalty, has said he would ensure that the bill gets an up-or-down vote if the governor can muster enough support.
The Washington Post reports, "Md. death-penalty repeal bill spending provision raises questions," by John Wagner.
Several leading Maryland lawmakers, including Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), have said that they expect voters to have the final word on whether the state repeals the death penalty.
But it remains an open question whether the repeal bill sponsored by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) could be petitioned to referendum if it passes the legislature.
The Maryland Constitution allows citizens to petition just-passed laws to the ballot if they collect enough signatures. But there’s an exception for laws “making any appropriation” — and O’Malley’s bill does propose spending some money.
Besides repealing the death penalty, the bill also directs the governor to put $500,000 a year into a fund for crime victims.
Even so, it is “more likely than not” that a court would allow a petition effort to go forward, according to an advisory letter written last week by a lawyer in the Attorney General’s Office.
If a repeal bill passes, it would be up to the State Board of Elections to determine whether to allow it to be petitioned to the ballot. A challenge could follow in court either way.
"In death penalty debate, Marylanders argue about cost of executions," by Ilana Kowarski for the Maryland Reporter.
As Maryland legislators debate whether to repeal the death penalty, Gov. O’Malley and foes of executions have repeatedly claimed that it costs more to kill a murderer than to let him live.
That is an argument O’Malley made in Wednesday’s State of the State address, as he has before. “The death penalty is expensive and it does not work. It is not a deterrent,” O’Malley said.
That was the verdict of the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment he appointed, which voted 13-9 to abolish the death penalty. The commission report said “the vast resources that are currently devoted to an uncertain and arbitrary death sentence system could be better utilized to stop homicides and other violent crimes before they occur.”
In its 2008 report, the commission wrote that the average cost of prosecuting and imprisoning a Death Row inmate was $3 million, nearly three times higher than the cost of convicting and sentencing a murderer to life imprisonment. Of that $3 million, $1.7 million is spent in the courtroom and $1.3 million is spent in a Supermax prison, the commission wrote.
By contrast, when the death penalty is not sought in a murder case, the state spends $1.1 million on each convict, which includes $250,000 for the attorneys’ fees and $870,000 for life imprisonment, according to the commission’s report. Those costs skyrocket when the state seeks the death penalty, whether its effort is successful or not.
The Urban Institute's 2008 report, The Cost of the Death Penalty in Maryland, is available in Adobe .pdf format.
Earlier coverage of the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment is from 2008.
The Frederick News-Post reports, "One fight for death penalty’s repeal." It's by Bethany Rodgers.
Maryland was the birthplace of Vicki Schieber's brilliant, brown-eyed daughter, and it was also her childhood home.
It's not a place where the death penalty should exist, Schieber says.
Schieber, of New Market, is sure her daughter would have forgiven the man who climbed into her Philadelphia apartment in the spring of 1998 and brutally murdered her. This belief guided Schieber as she and her husband resisted capital punishment for Shannon's accused killer. It also has pushed her to the front lines of the death-penalty repeal movement during this session of the Maryland General Assembly.
"Closure doesn't happen for murder victims' families. People ... want to say that when the needle is stuck in the arm, it will help you heal," Schieber said. "But anger only kills the person who is angry."
Earlier coverage from Maryland begins at the link.