- NEW VOICES: Law Enforcement
Officials Gather in Maryland to Oppose Death Penalty Corrections
officials, prosecutors and police chiefs
recently gathered in Annapolis, Maryland, to voice support for a
legislative measure that would repeal the state's death penalty. "It is
a human system, and because it is fallible and because it is human, it
makes mistakes. Executions make those mistakes irreversible," said
Matthew Campbell, a former deputy state's attorney for Montgomery and
Howard counties. Gary J. Hilton, a former warden at the Trenton State
Prison in New Jersey, added that at one time he was a "vigorous
supporter" of capital punishment, but then he came to believe that the
money it costs to carry out a death sentence would be better spent on
improving prison equipment, updating facilities, and training staff. He
said life without parole is the toughest punishment, noting, "Nothing
in this world could be more horrible than growing old and dying in
jail." Partrick V. Murphy, a former police commissioner of Detroit,
Washington and New York, added, "The risk of mistake in administering
the death penalty is frightening." In all, about 50 law enforcement
officials signed a public statement backing the repeal measure.
Governor Martin O'Malley has voiced support for the repeal bill,
arguing that capital punishment is unjust and costly. The legislation
would replace the death penalty with life without parole. (Baltimore
Sun, March 14, 2007). The former Attorney General of Maryland, Joseph
Curran, also supports repeal of the death penalty. UPDATE:
The bill to abolish the death penalty was defeated in the Senate
Judicial Proceedings Committee by a vote of 5-5 on March 15, 2007.
- Maryland Governor Supports Legislation to
Repeal State's Death Penalty
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley
(pictured) has said that he
plans on supporting recently introduced legislation to repeal the
state's death penalty. "I've had a pretty consistent position on this.
Now that it's salient, I'm certainly not going to try to duck or hide.
I would like to see us repeal the death penalty," stated O'Malley, who has
argued that the death penalty is not a deterrent and that money spent
on prosecuting death penalty cases could be better spent fighting
violent crime. The proposed legislation would replace Maryland's
death penalty with life without parole. Maryland Senator Lisa A.
Gladden, the bill's lead sponsor in the Maryland Senate, said that she
believes the bill could be passed this year. Delegate Samuel I.
Rosenberg, the measure's chief sponsor in the House of Delegates,
echoed Gladden's enthusiasm for the bill and added, "The time
and effort litigating these cases, that goes into legislating this
issue, could be spent on preventative measures that make each and every
citizen more safe in their home." Maryland Senate President
Thomas Mike V. Miller, Jr., a capital punishment supporter, said he
thinks there needs to be a "healthy debate" on the subject. He said he
would not block efforts to consider the measure, stating, "I realize
the trend is against the death penalty." The bill comes just
weeks after a court ordered Maryland
to halt executions until new regulations on lethal injection are put
forward by the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. (Washington Post, January
Governor Imposes Moratorium on Executions Maryland Governor
Parris Glendening announced the
first state-wide death penalty moratorium since Illinois halted
more than two years ago. Glendening said that the moratorium will
in place until a death penalty study regarding racial bias is completed
and the legislature has had an opportunity to review its findings.
Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who has declared her candidacy
to succeed Glendening, recently announced her support for the
She noted that it would be "tough to have a report come out and say
wasn't fair knowing that while the report was going on, that people
executed." (Associated Press, May 9, 2002).
filibuster in the Senate kept a 2001 moratorium
from being voted on. The bill, which passed the House in March,
have suspended executions pending the results of a University of
study on racial disparities in the death penalty. See alsowww.quixote.org/ej
Nevertheless, de facto
on executions is in place while the state's high court prepares to rule
on the constitutionality of the state statute in the fall.
Maryland General Assembly passed
a bill granting inmates access to DNA testing if a judge believes the
might prove their innocence. The measure awaits action by the