Thursday, 22 February 2007

Maryland governor asks legislators to repeal death penalty

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Maryland governor asks legislators to repeal death penalty

Joe Shaulis at 12:12 PM ET

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[JURIST] The new governor of Maryland [JURIST news archive] testified before legislators Wednesday that the state's death penalty [JURIST news archive] should be abolished because it is "inherently unjust," ineffective as a deterrent and a drain on resources. Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) [official profile], who took office last month, appeared before two committees of the General Assembly [official website] that are considering bills [legislative materials, House version; Senate version] to repeal the death penalty and convert death sentences into life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. O'Malley's testimony echoed his op-ed [text] published in Wednesday's Washington Post, in which he wrote:

Notwithstanding the executions of the rightly convicted, can the death penalty ever be justified as public policy when it inherently necessitates the occasional taking of wrongly convicted, innocent life? In Maryland, since 1978, we have executed five people and set one convicted man free when his innocence was discovered.

In the op-ed, O'Malley estimated that administering the death penalty has cost the state an estimated $22.4 million. He said that money could have been spent on hiring additional police officers or providing treatment for drug addicts.

The legislative debate over the death penalty has been fueled by a Maryland Court of Appeals decision in December. The state's highest court ruled [PDF text] that lethal injection procedures are subject to the state's Administrative Procedures Act [JURIST report] and therefore must be developed under the guidance of the Maryland attorney general and a legislative committee, with review and comment by the public. Executions are on hold until new procedures are developed. The Washington Post has more. The Baltimore Sun has additional coverage.

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