Jan
09

Maryland On The Brink

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Maryland, where executions have been on hold since 2005, is closer than the Free State has ever been to total repeal of the death penalty.  As the state legislature convenes for its annual session today, Governor Martin O’Malley appears within a hair’s breadth of enough support to accomplish his goal of abolition.

But nothing is ever simple about death-penalty politics, and the situation in Maryland’s state house proves that point.  Repeal has been tied up in a legislative committee for years, but Senate leaders have promised to bring it to the floor if the Governor can demonstrate that he has the 24 votes needed to pass it.  A Washington Post headcount this morning shows that O’Malley could be within one vote of that total. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/omalleys-push-to-repeal-maryland-death-penalty-could-be-within-one-vote/2013/01/08/29ecdfa2-59a7-11e2-beee-6e38f5215402_story.html)

For his part, O’Malley is playing his cards close to his political chest.  He has not publicly committed himself to backing a new repeal bill, but he may simply be waiting to lock up the full vote tally.  Look for more on this over the next 90 days that Maryland’s legislators are in session.  Watching most closely will be the five inmates now on the state’s death row.

LATE NEWS: At a rally of repeal advocates in Annapolis on Jan. 15th, O’Malley vowed to send the legislature a new repeal bill that, if passed, would make Maryland the 18th state to outlaw capital punishment.

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