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Maryland and the Death Penalty

Resource type: News

The New York Times | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

Maryland’s governor, Martin O’Malley, chose Jan. 15, the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., to announce his determination to repeal the state’s law allowing capital punishment. “Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence,” he said, quoting Dr. King.

The death penalty does not deter murders, the governor said, since states with the penalty have had higher murder rates than states without it. And prosecuting a capital case in Maryland costs three times as much as pursuing a homicide conviction that carries a sentence of life without parole. In short, the penalty has been a huge waste of taxpayer money on a policy that manifestly does not work. Significantly, he said, the state has gathered sobering proof that its use of the death penalty has been so unfair — so arbitrary and capricious — as to be unjust and immoral.

The Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment reported in 2008 that the “administration of the death penalty clearly shows racial bias” and that the chances of a state prosecutor’s “seeking and imposing a death sentence differs alarmingly across jurisdictions in Maryland, even when the cases are similar.”

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