"House rejects changes to death penalty repeal," is by Michael Dresser for the Baltimore Sun.
The House of Delegates moved closer to abolishing Maryland's death penalty Wednesday night as it rejected changes that attempted to turn Gov. Martin O'Malley's bill into something less than full repeal.
In the first of several key tests, delegates voted 77-61 to reject an amendment that would allow capital punishment for inmates already incarcerated for murder who kill again.
The House worked into the night rejecting amendment after amendment — most offered by Republicans — before giving the bill preliminary approval shortly before 9 p.m.
The bill is likely to come up for a final vote in the House Friday. Because it was not changed from the Senate version, its expected approval there would send the legislation to the governor for his signature. The Senate approved the measure 27-20 last week.
The Washington Post reports, "Maryland House advances repeal of death penalty after defeating several exceptions," by John Wagner.
Supporters of Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s bill to repeal the death penalty turned back 18 proposed amendments Wednesday in the House of Delegates, including attempts to keep capital punishment on the books for cop killers, child abductors and terrorists.
The two-hour debate set the stage for a final vote Friday on the bill, which cleared the Senate last week. Passage by the House, which is expected, would send the measure to O’Malley (D) for his signature.
Following the Wednesday night House session, O’Malley told reporters he was encouraged by the proceedings, in which mostly Republican opponents of the repeal bill sought to gain leverage by relaying details of some gruesome murders.
“You can come up with a never-ending parade of horrible crimes ... but the fact remains that the death penalty is ineffective,” O’Malley said.
"O'Malley's death penalty repeal bill gets initial OK from House," by Alex Jackson in the Annapolis Capital Gazette.
Last week, the Senate voted for the bill 27-20. Under its terms, Maryland would become the 18th state to abolish the death penalty and the most severe punishment in the state would be life without parole.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Annapolis, said a final vote on the repeal bill is expected Friday. If it passes the House, the measure will head to O’Malley’s desk.
Supporters of the bill say the death penalty is costly and ineffective. They said it has been used only five times since it was reinstated in the 1970s, and not at all since 2005.
"Md. Republicans may not try referendum to save death penalty," is by David Hill in the Washington Times.
Maryland Republicans might concede the fight over the state’s death penalty, saying that they are unlikely to mount a referendum effort as the House prepares to grant final passage to a repeal.
In recent years, outnumbered Republicans in Maryland have used online petitions to send several controversial Democratic proposals to referendum, but the lawmaker who helped lead those efforts says he doesn’t see it happening for the death penalty.
Delegate Neil C. Parrott said he hasn’t completely ruled out leading a petition drive, but that a campaign would face long odds and might not do much to affect policy in a state where recent laws have already made it extremely difficult for prosecutors to pursue executions.
“It’s excruciatingly difficult to get anything on the ballot,” said Mr. Parrott, Washington Republican. “It’s so much work that unless [supporters] really want to do that, we’re not going to do it.
At the Daily Beast, "Questioning the Death Penalty," by Ilana Glazer.
While support for the death penalty has been in consistent decline since the early 1990s, 63% of Americans still support the practice. This makes sense; ‘revenge killing’ carries emotional weight that could, in many cases, supersede the moral arguments against the death penalty. If America had gotten their hands on Adolf Hitler, you can be sure that even the most ardent opponents of the death penalty would be fine with a public execution.
From a logical standpoint, the death penalty makes absolutely no sense. In a 2008 study of the death penalty in Maryland, it was revealed that between 1978 and 1999, the 162 cases with capital punishment cost over $1 million more per case than if they had been tried without the death penalty attached. This is because of the lengthy appeals process, as well as incarceration costs of death row, which generally require individual cells and beefed up security.
Kirk Bloodsworth’s story is also not an anomaly. The Innocence Project, whose goal is to use new DNA evidence to overturn wrongful convictions, notes that of the 303 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States, 18 were death row inmates. Given that forensic technology will always leave something to be desired, it’s possible that the evidence we use now will miss important clues that could lead to wrongful convictions. Sentences can be overturned, but once someone is executed, nothing can be done post-mortem.
Earlier coverage of the Maryland repeal legislation begins at the link.