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Maryland Senate Panel Hears Death Penalty Arguments

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Md. Senate Panel Hears Death Penalty Arguments

State Sen. Lisa Gladden knows her attempt to repeal Maryland's death penalty will likely be unsuccessful this year.

Gladden, a Democrat from Baltimore, said that the measure is expected to die in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and that she will probably not attempt to circumvent the committee process by petitioning the bill to the Senate floor.

Following a committee hearing on the bill Wednesday, Gladden said petitioning the measure, which would require the signatures of 15 of her colleagues, would annoy senate leadership.

“If I had it, I would do it today, but I don't have the votes and I know I don't,” Gladden said. “I think it's an insult to the institution and the body. I think the body's been through a lot of hard stuff with the same-sex marriage and this whole tax stuff we're going to do next week. It's unfair to ask my colleagues, my friends, my family to do that.”

Maryland's death penalty has been on hold since 2006, when the Court of Appeals found the state's lethal injection protocols weren't properly approved. Executions can't resume until new protocols are developed and a legislative committee approves them.

Advocates who oppose the death penalty say the policy can lead to the execution of innocent people and the time-consuming process of prosecuting a capital case, followed by appeals, can be a burden to victims' families.

Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger opposes the repeal and told committee members that capital punishment should be on the books, even if a jury does not find the use of the death penalty necessary. 

“We need to keep the death penalty as an option for prosecutors to use in the most heinous murders,” Shellenberger said.

Related Topics Death Penalty, Maryland, Senate
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