Death Penalty Debate Is Personal for Rushern Baker

In Annapolis Thursday, lawmakers listened to passionate testimony on both sides of the death penalty issue.

“Capital punishment is expensive, it does not work and I humbly urge you to replace it with life without parole,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said.
He was among the many who spoke in support of a bill calling for the repeal of Maryland’s death penalty. Each speaker had their own reasons for testifying before the senate committee considering the legislation.

“There are biases in this system that we will never eliminate in our lifetime,” Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker’s testimony was personal. His, Christa Beverly, is a former civil rights attorney with a long history of fighting against the death penalty, and she represented appeals for people on Death Row.

“Her opposition to the death penalty had more to do with this country and this state and what it said about us to have state-sanctioned execution,” he said.
Beverly, 52, needs 24-hour care because of early onset of dementia.

“Unfortunately, due to her illness, she can no longer advocate for the repeal of the death penalty, so I’m doing it for her,” Baker said.
Senators, family members of crime victims and supporters of the death penalty also testified, but for Baker this is an opportunity to see a dream full filled.
Since 1976, Maryland has executed five people. Five men remain on Death Row.

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