That's the title of the Baltimore Sun editorial. It has the sub-head: "The death penalty is arbitrary, prone to error, hard on the families of murder victims and ultimately immoral."
The Maryland Senate's vote today to repeal the death penalty was a milestone in an effort to remove from the law a sentence that puts vengeance above justice, fails to deter crime and provides for the families of victims not the closure they crave but instead years of frustration and heartache. With the 27-20 vote — a solid majority that included two Republicans and 25 Democrats — repeal supporters are already looking ahead to the possibility that Maryland could provide momentum for ending capital punishment in other states, and ultimately help convince the Supreme Court that the death penalty is cruel and unusual.
Proponents of capital punishment contend that it affords true justice for the families of murder victims. But as a practical matter, it offers years of frustration and heartache. Death is the one punishment that cannot be taken back, so the criminal justice system has no choice but to afford substantial opportunities for post-conviction review. The decades of delay in the cases of some Maryland death row inmates are unusual, but the average time from sentencing to execution nationally is nearly 15 years, according to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Finally, and most profoundly, is the moral question. Is it right for the state to punish killing by killing? Capital punishment proponents say yes, that some people commit crimes of such profound evil that they forfeit their right to live in our society. But that can be accomplished with a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Capital punishment serves not to render judgment on a killer's humanity but to diminish ours. It should be abolished.
Here are links to addtional news coverage of yesterday's vote by the Maryland Senate to repeal the state's death penalty.
Today's Wall Street Journal reports. "Maryland Moves to End Executions." It's by Ashby Jones. There is an infographic at the link.
Maryland's Senate voted on Wednesday to repeal the death penalty, moving the state closer to becoming the sixth since 2007 to abolish capital punishment.
The vote in Maryland came amid deepening uncertainty over the death penalty, which was reinstated in many states after it was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976.
While Maryland and 32 other states retain the power to sentence inmates to death, capital punishment faces a host of challenges, from the growing number of exonerations of convicts—often because of new DNA evidence—to the cost of prosecuting capital defendants to shortages of drugs used in lethal injections.
Since 2007, the death penalty has been abolished in five states: Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York.
"Maryland takes step to end capital punishment," is the Los Angeles Times report by Michael Muskal.
"Senate votes 27-20 to abolish death penalty," is by Steve Lash of the Daily Record. There is a roll call listing of the final Senate vote at the link.
AFP posts, "Maryland moves to abolish death penalty," written by Romain Jeanticou in Washington, DC.
Earlier coverage of the historic Maryland Senate vote begins at the link.