Governor Martin O’Malley’s opposition to the nomination of Greg Hall to the Maryland House of Delegates reveals a lot about the Democratic governor’s attitude toward crime.
Hall, of Prince George's County, is a former drug dealer who was involved in a shooting two decades ago that left a 13-year old dead. Hall did not pull the trigger and was convicted of a misdemeanor drug charge.
An interesting Washington Post article this weekend traces O’Malley’s political history and crime as it relates to his blocking of Hall’s appointment. Despite the governor’s political messages of hope and moving forward, his record suggests that he is not a person whowould believe in redemption for a man like Hall.
From his early days as mayor of Baltimore, O’Malley gained a reputation for being hard on crime, at times ordering mass arrests. As governor, O’Malley has hardly issued any pardons and is on track to have the least number of pardons issued of any Maryland governor in decades.
“Democrat or Republican, O’Malley can be counted among the most conservative of his contemporaries on crime.”
But there is one heavy crime issue where O’Malley’s views align a bit differently: The death penalty.
O’Malley is firmly against the death penalty and with the 2012 elections behind him, there are reports that he is considering asking the legislature to abolish the death penalty in the state.
He had tried to get it abolished in 2009, but ultimately the legislature reached a comprise that would restrict the use of capital punishment.
The Baltimore Sun editorial board had a Sunday editorial calling for O’Malley to end the death penalty this year.
Having successfully pushed for historic changes in Maryland laws regarding expanded casino gambling, in-state college tuition rates for some undocumented-immigrant students, and the right of gay people to marry, Gov. Martin O'Malley is now in a position to address one of the last great pieces of unfinished business of his time in Annapolis: abolishing the state's death penalty.
This year the NAACP—an organization staunchly against the death penalty—says it will launch its biggest-ever effort to get Annapolis to abolish the death penalty, spending more in Maryland than it has in any other state.
But with clear ambitions in 2016, the question is how much political weight is O’Malley willing to put into an issue as controversial as the death penalty.
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