Maryland Poised To End The Death Penalty

by
Owen Poindexter
Maryland will become the 18th state to abolish the death penalty, when Martin O'Malley signs a law abolishing it. The bill ending executions in the state overcame its last potential hurdle when the House of Delegates voted 82-56 to pass it.

Kirk Bloodsworth, interviewed here by Stephen Colbert, was instrumental in passing a death penalty ban in Maryland


Maryland is set to become the 18th state to abolish the death penalty. The House of Delegates voted today, 82-56, to abolish the death penalty. The measure now goes to Governor Martin O'Malley's desk. Gov. O'Malley sponsored the death penalty ban, and it is a foregone conclusion that he will sign the bill into law.

Sen. Bobby Zirkin reversed his previous opinion and voted for repeal, saying "We could execute an innocent person, and that weighs on my conscience too heavily not to cast a green [yes] vote.”

According to the excellent deathpenaltyinfo.org, the U.S. executed 43 people in 2012 and the same number in 2011 (that's weird, but I can't think of a reason it wouldn't be a coincidence). Five have been executed so far this year. Maryland last executed someone in 2005. The measure that just passed allows the governor to commute the sentences of Maryland's five inmates on death row.

Former death row inmate, Kirk Bloodsworth, who was acquitted by DNA evidence, was at the forefront of Maryland's push to end the death penalty. Now the Advocacy Director to the death penalty repeal advocacy group Witness to Innocence, Bloodsworth told Stephen Colbert (above) that, "We have found 142 exonerated death row survivors in the United States....We have possibly killed innocent people."

That is a hard point to refute or counter, and due to death row inmates typically making every appeal legally allowed to them, the death penalty is not cost-effective in hard economic terms. Maryland took a good step today, and hopefully the next state is close on its heels.

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