May
02

Maryland Repeals the Death Penalty

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Gov. Martin O’Malley signed legislation today making Maryland the 18th state to eliminate capital punishment.  It was a significant victory for O’Malley, who has been trying to get a repeal bill through the state legislature for six years.

“Evidence shows that the death penalty is not a deterrent,” O’Malley said in a statement. “It cannot be administered without racial bias, and it costs three times as much as life in prison without parole.  Furthermore, there is no way to reverse a mistake if an innocent person is put to death.”

Today’s signing took place in a ceremony witnessed by death-penalty opponents, including Kirk Bloodworth, the first person in the U.S. freed from death row by DNA evidence.  Supporters of capital punishment could attempt to overturn the legislation by forcing a referendum.

Maryland’s last execution was in 2005.  The five condemned inmates currently on death row are not affected by today’s repeal; O’Malley has said he will consider possible commutation of their sentences on a case-by-case basis.

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