"The right path on death penalty," is the title of the editorial published in today's Virginian-Pilot.
Maryland lawmakers voted this month to repeal the state's death penalty. If Gov. Martin O'Malley signs the bill, as promised, Maryland will be the sixth state to abolish the death penalty in six years - and will join 17 other states in doing away with a punishment fraught with errors and racial disparity.
Maryland's history of crime and punishment is worth noting. By 1999, O'Malley said, "Baltimore had become the most violent and drug-addicted city in America." The death penalty was being used then, but it had done nothing to stop decades of rising violence. In fact, the death penalty was imposed so haphazardly that between 1995 and 2007, Maryland's reversal rate for death sentences was 80 percent.
What has brought down violent crime? "Effective policing, expanded drug treatment, smarter strategies, new technologies to solve crime and target repeat violent offenders," O'Malley wrote in a column for Politico.
Executions serve society's basest instincts: fear, revenge, retribution. They don't make us safer. They cost three times as much as a life sentence.
Maryland has pointed the way to a more just system. Virginia would be wise to follow.
The MSNBC program NOW with Alex Wagner posts, "Support for death penalty on the decline," by Matthew Alexander.
Maryland’s Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley will soon sign legislation passed by the state’s Senate and House of Delegates that will make it the 18th state to abolish the death penalty.
On Monday’s NOW with Alex Wagner, the panel discussed the current debate surrounding capital punishment, which has largely focused on issues of cost.
A 2008 study by The urban Institute found that in Maryland, cases where the death penalty was pursued by prosecutors ended up costing taxpayers three times as much as cases seeking life without the possibility of parole.
The number of Americans supporting the death penalty, while still a majority, has also been in decline. According to Gallup, 63% of American support the death penalty, while 32% are opposed. However, support for capital punishment has declined markedly from a high of 80% in 1994.
The waning support has played itself out on the state level as five states–Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York–have all abolished capital punishment in the last six years.
David Protess posts, "Executing the Death Penalty," at Huffington Post. He's President of the Chicago Innocence Project, and a regular poster at HuffPo.
In the spring of 1999, a French journalist was in Chicago to write about the latest death row exoneration and, as our lunch concluded, made a stunningly bold prediction. "Your country will abolish capital punishment in the next 25 years," she declared.
Laughing, I reminded her that public support for the death penalty was at an all-time high, capital punishment was the law in 38 states and most of them were routinely performing executions.
She waved her hand dismissively, pointing out that her country had been beheading prisoners since the French Revolution until, for economic and moral reasons, the death penalty gradually fell into disuse in the 1970s and was finally abolished. Same thing had happened throughout Europe. "Your country may have a cowboy mentality," she concluded, " but even cowboys don't like being on the wrong side of history."
I thought of our conversation on Friday when I learned that Maryland will become the first state south of the Mason-Dixon line to ban capital punishment.
"Ending executions in Maryland," is the Baltimore Sun editorial published on Tuesday.
Having won approval in both chambers of Maryland's General Assembly, a landmark bill to abolish the state's death penalty awaits only Gov. Martin O'Malley's signature before becoming law. It is a tremendous political and moral victory for Mr. O'Malley, a long-time opponent of capital punishment who campaigned for a repeal during his first term only to come up short.
That leaves only one major item of unfinished business on his agenda regarding the issue: Commuting the sentences of the five men currently on Maryland's death row to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The governor must use the historic opportunity presented by the abolition of capital punishment in Maryland to unequivocally put an end to the last vestiges of this barbaric practice in the state's prisons.
The bill abolishing Maryland's death penalty that the governor is expected to sign does not apply retroactively to defendants who were sentenced to be executed while the old statute was still in effect. Thus although Mr. O'Malley has presided over a long-term de facto moratorium on capital punishment — there have been no executions in the state since 2005 — the five men on its death row remain condemned to die, and there is no assurance that a future Maryland governor wouldn't allow their sentences to be carried out. That would make a mockery of the religious, moral and practical arguments against the death penalty that finally led to its abolition.
SeaCoast Online posts the AP report, "N.H. death penalty opponents laud Maryland repeal."
New Hampshire death penalty opponents are lauding the Maryland legislature's vote to repeal the death penalty and vow an intense campaign to abolish capital punishment here during the 2014 session.
Maryland's House of Delegates passed the repeal legislation Friday and its Senate voted in favor of repeal last week. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has pledged to sign it into law.
New Hampshire Democratic Rep. Renny Cushing of Hampton — whose father was murdered — said he and Manchester Republican Rep. Steve Vaillancourt will sponsor legislation to abolish the death penalty next session.
Earlier coverage of Maryland's repeal of capital punishment begins with coverage of Gov. O'Malley's Politico OpEd.