"O'Malley signs death penalty repeal," is by Michael Dresser for the Baltimore Sun. There is video at the link.
Surrounded by religious leaders, civil rights activists and others who have fought for years to stop executions in Maryland, Gov. Martin O'Malley signed legislation Thursday repealing the state's death penalty.
Unless the law is overturned in a referendum, Maryland will become the 18th state to end capital punishment, leaving life without parole as the maximum penalty for any crime.
"We have a responsibility to stop doing those things that are wasteful and ineffective," O'Malley, a Democrat, said before putting pen to paper.
The bill, which passed both houses of the General Assembly with votes to spare in March, fulfills a goal O'Malley set early in his administration.
Death penalty repeal was one of more than 200 bills the governor signed Thursday. Among them were measures legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes and allowing people in the country illegally to obtain a state driver's license.
But it was the abolition of the death penalty after more than 300 years on the books in Maryland that took center stage. Hundreds of repeal supporters lined up to have their pictures taken with O'Malley, House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller. It took six photos — each with dozens of advocates — to accommodate all who wanted their moment in state history.
The first two ceremonial pens went to Sen. Lisa A. Gladden and Del. Sandy Rosenberg, Baltimore Democrats who have long pushed to end capital punishment. The third pen went to NAACP President Ben Jealous, who had urged O'Malley to try again for repeal this year after falling short in 2009.
"O’Malley signs death penalty repeal, medical marijuana bill and other measures," by John Wagner and Aaron C. Davis for the Washington Post.
Maryland became the sixth state in as many years to abolish capital punishment when Gov. Martin O’Malley signed legislation Thursday repealing the death penalty.
The new law could face a challenge at the ballot box next year, however. A group that has led successful petition drives in the past said it would announce Friday whether it will move forward with an expected bid to put the issue to voters in November 2014.
Del. Neil C. Parrott (R-Washington), chairman of the group, would not confirm its intentions Thursday. But he and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger (D), a death penalty supporter who was vocal during the legislative battle, plan to appear at an announcement being staged at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
Jane Henderson, executive director of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions, said she was surprised by the possibility of a petition drive, and she questioned whether the group will have the funding and organization to run a ballot measure campaign next year.
“I would think it would be a challenge for them,” she said.
AP posts, "Governor signs repeal of death penalty in Md.," via the Annapolis Capital Gazette.
Opponents of capital punishment marked a milestone Thursday as Maryland became the first state south of the Mason-Dixon line to abolish the death penalty.
The passage was a significant victory for Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Roman Catholic who opposes capital punishment and is considering seeking the 2016 presidential nomination. Death penalty opponents said the governor helped maintain the national momentum of repeal efforts by making Maryland the sixth state in as many years to abolish capital punishment.
"I don't know exactly what the timing is, but over the longer arc of history I think you'll see more and more states repeal the death penalty," O'Malley said in a brief interview after the bill signing. "It's wasteful. It's ineffective. It doesn't work to reduce violent crime."
NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous, who worked to get the repeal bill passed, noted the significance of a Democratic governor south of the Mason-Dixon line with presidential aspirations leading an effort to ban capital punishment. Jealous noted that in 1992, then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton left the presidential campaign trail to oversee the execution of a man who had killed a police officer, a move widely viewed as an effort to shed the Democratic Party's image as soft on crime.
"Our governor has also just redefined what it means to have a political future in this country," Jealous said. "You know, it was just 20 years ago that a young governor with possibilities below the Mason-Dixon stopped during his presidential campaign" to oversee an execution.
Maryland is the 18th state to abolish the death penalty. Neighboring Delaware also made a push to repeal it this year, but the bill has stalled.
Diane Rust-Tierney, executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said Maryland is keeping the momentum going for other states to follow.
"It doesn't always happen overnight," Rust-Tierney said. "The more people study it, the more people understand it. This was a seven-year effort here in Maryland."
Reuters Posts, "Maryland becomes latest U.S. state to abolish death penalty," by Ian Simpson. It's via the Chicago Tribune.
Maryland became the 18th U.S. state to abolish the death penalty on Thursday when Governor Martin O'Malley signed a bill outlawing capital punishment in the state.
O'Malley, a Democrat mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2016, had pledged to sign the bill, which the Democrat-controlled legislature passed in March. The law replaces capital punishment with a sentence of life without parole.
"With the legislation signed today, Maryland has effectively eliminated a policy that is proven not to work," O'Malley's office said in a statement.
The governor's office said the death penalty does not deter crime, cannot be administered without racial bias and costs three times as much as life without parole. A mistake cannot be reversed if an innocent person is put to death, the statement added.
Five other states - Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico, New York and New Jersey - have repealed capital punishment since 2007, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
"That's six states in six years," said Richard Dieter, the Center's executive director.
Since Maryland reinstated the death penalty in 1978, 58 people have been sentenced to death in the state, but only five sentences have been carried out. Maryland has five men on death row, and its last execution took place in 2005.
"European Union Welcomes Abolition Of Death Penalty In Maryland," is at RTT News.
The European Union has warmly welcomed abolition of death penalty in the U.S. state of Maryland.
The abolition bill, signed by Governor Martin O'Malley on Thursday, makes Maryland the 18th U.S. state to scrap death penalty since the U.S. Supreme Court approved new capital laws in 1976.
EU High Representative Catherine Ashton in a statement congratulated the Governor, the Senate and the House of Delegates on the historic decision.
She said the "European Union strongly hopes that this decision will encourage other U.S. States to follow suit in joining the growing national and worldwide movement towards the abolition of the use of capital punishment."
"More than a third of U.S. states have now abolished the death penalty, and we urge the remaining 32 states, and the federal government, to follow suit," Amnesty International USA's Abolish the Death Penalty campaign director said in a statement.
Seven U.S. states - Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, Missouri, Ohio, Alabama and Florida - account for nearly three-quarters of the more than 1,000 executions nationwide since 1994.
Earlier coverage of Maryland's repeal of the death penalty begins at the link.