Death Penalty Repeal Debated in Maryland

Maryland lawmakers are considering eliminating the death penalty.

The last execution in the state was in 2005. After that, the Court of Appeals ruled the state’s death penalty regulations are improper and have to be rewritten. But Instead of doing that, Gov. Martin O'Malley has tried repeatedly to get the state legislature to repeal the death penalty. This year he believes he will be successful.

"I am hopeful greater numbers of leaders in the Senate and House will step forward and acknowledge that the death penalty is expensive and it doesn't work,” he said. “It seems to be that anything the government does which is expensive and ineffective should be repealed if only for those reasons."

Death penalty repeal has more support in the House of Delegates than the Senate where it has died in committee year after year. But this session, if 24 senators can be found to support it, death penalty repeal could be brought to a vote.

"The death penalty's not working in the state of Maryland,” State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said. “For whatever reason, it’s not working. The court finds some way to overturn them. They're very expensive, but I still believe in them. The D.C. sniper, he changed his clothes on my property. I had an employee who testified at his trial. Cases like that, mass murderers, I think it's appropriate."

Those who favor keeping the death penalty say it may be the one thing that deters the most violent criminals.

"I'm opposed to the repeal of the death penalty at this point in time,” State Sen. David Brinkley said. “I do believe that there are very rare instances where I believe an individual should be executed. And if nothing else, for that person there's no way shape or form they could ever, ever be back on the street."

The repeal of Maryland's of death penalty is so controversial that even if it passed by the Maryland legislature, the chances are likely that opponents will petition to put it on the ballot and Maryland voters would have the final say.

Five prisoners are currently on Maryland's death row.

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