Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Correct a Terrible Mistake

From the Standdown Blog :

That's the title of a Baltimore Sun OpEd by former Maryland Speaker of the House Casper Taylor. LINK

In 28 years in the Maryland House of Delegates, nine as speaker, I cast thousands of votes. I have few regrets. But there is one vote I wish I could take back - my 1978 vote to reinstate the death penalty in Maryland.My vote seemed reasonable at the time. The Supreme Court had thrown out all state death penalty laws. Like other states, Maryland re-enacted the death penalty by approving a system that complied with new criteria established by the high court.

Today, that vote haunts me. Since reinstatement, Maryland's 30 years of experience with the death penalty have been a colossal failure. I now believe that life in prison without the possibility of parole is a better alternative. The majority of Marylanders agree.Late last year, a respected state commission chaired by former U.S. Attorney General Benjamin R. Civiletti conducted the most thorough examination of Maryland's death penalty ever performed. The commission's report is a terrifying indictment of the system our state government uses to take a life. It should be required reading for the General Assembly.


Decades ago, I was sure that the death penalty made sense for the "worst of the worst."Today, thanks to the commission's report and all that we have learned about the death penalty since 1978, I can reconcile my moral convictions with a practical public policy decision. Replacing the death penalty with life without parole is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.Capital punishment is rightfully on its way out in the United States. Maryland can and should be a national leader. I hope our state legislators will correct the mistake my colleagues and I made 31 years ago.

Earlier coverage of the Maryland legislation begins here.

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