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Maryland governor to introduce death penalty repeal

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley [official website] announced on Tuesday that he will file legislation to repeal capital punishment in the state of Maryland [press release]. O'Malley stated [text] that the death penalty was expensive and ineffective. The governor had previously attempted to repeal the death penalty [JURIST report] in Maryland in 2007, but the attempt failed. Following the failed repeal, O'Malley created the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment [JURIST report] in 2008. The commission found that there was one exonerated innocent person for every 8.7 Americans on to receive the death penalty, that death penalty showed a racial bias, that no administrative fixes could address the racial disparity, and that the cost to taxpayers of pursuing a capital case was three times the cost of a life sentence without parole. The governor cited to those results as one reason he was re-introducing a repeal. On the decision to attempt the repeal again, O'Malley said:

To govern is to choose. And particularly in an era of limited budget resources, every dollar that we choose to spend on a policy that is wasteful and does not work—when instead we could be doing more of the things that do work to protect life—seems to me to run counter to the pragmatic "do the things that work" governance that is the hallmark of our State, and what our people desire. The death penalty does not work in terms of preventing violent crime and the taking of human life. If you look over 30 or 40 years, the death penalty was on the books, and yet Baltimore still became the most violent and addicted city in America. Having the death penalty on the books did nothing to keep the homicides from rising.
O'Malley will file the legislation this week.

In April Connecticut became the seventeenth state to abolish the death penalty and the fifth to do so in the previous five years. New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Illinois [JURIST reports] have all recently eliminated the death penalty, while 34 states retain its use. However, California voters declined to repeal the death penalty on the most recent ballot, with 47 percent of voters supporting the repeal.

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