Legislative Activity - Maryland

  • NEW VOICES: Law Enforcement Officials Gather in Maryland to Oppose Death Penalty Corrections officials, prosecutors and police chiefs recently gathered in Annapolis, Maryland, to voice support for a legislative measure that would repeal the state's death penalty. "It is a human system, and because it is fallible and because it is human, it makes mistakes. Executions make those mistakes irreversible," said Matthew Campbell, a former deputy state's attorney for Montgomery and Howard counties. Gary J. Hilton, a former warden at the Trenton State Prison in New Jersey, added that at one time he was a "vigorous supporter" of capital punishment, but then he came to believe that the money it costs to carry out a death sentence would be better spent on improving prison equipment, updating facilities, and training staff. He said life without parole is the toughest punishment, noting, "Nothing in this world could be more horrible than growing old and dying in jail." Partrick V. Murphy, a former police commissioner of Detroit, Washington and New York, added, "The risk of mistake in administering the death penalty is frightening." In all, about 50 law enforcement officials signed a public statement backing the repeal measure. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has voiced support for the repeal bill, arguing that capital punishment is unjust and costly. The legislation would replace the death penalty with life without parole. (Baltimore Sun, March 14, 2007). The former Attorney General of Maryland, Joseph Curran, also supports repeal of the death penalty.  UPDATE: The bill to abolish the death penalty was defeated in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee by a vote of 5-5 on March 15, 2007.
  • Maryland Governor Supports Legislation to Repeal State's Death Penalty Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (pictured) has said that he plans on supporting recently introduced legislation to repeal the state's death penalty. "I've had a pretty consistent position on this. Now that it's salient, I'm certainly not going to try to duck or hide. I would like to see us repeal the death penalty," stated O'Malley, who has argued that the death penalty is not a deterrent and that money spent on prosecuting death penalty cases could be better spent fighting violent crime. The proposed legislation would replace Maryland's death penalty with life without parole. Maryland Senator Lisa A. Gladden, the bill's lead sponsor in the Maryland Senate, said that she believes the bill could be passed this year. Delegate Samuel I. Rosenberg, the measure's chief sponsor in the House of Delegates, echoed Gladden's enthusiasm for the bill and added, "The time and effort litigating these cases, that goes into legislating this issue, could be spent on preventative measures that make each and every citizen more safe in their home." Maryland Senate President Thomas Mike V. Miller, Jr., a capital punishment supporter, said he thinks there needs to be a "healthy debate" on the subject. He said he would not block efforts to consider the measure, stating, "I realize the trend is against the death penalty." The bill comes just weeks after a court ordered Maryland to halt executions until new regulations on lethal injection are put forward by the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. (Washington Post, January 26, 2007). 
  • Maryland Governor Imposes Moratorium on Executions Maryland Governor Parris Glendening announced the nation's first state-wide death penalty moratorium since Illinois halted executions more than two years ago. Glendening said that the moratorium will remain in place until a death penalty study regarding racial bias is completed and the legislature has had an opportunity to review its findings. Maryland Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who has declared her candidacy to succeed Glendening, recently announced her support for the moratorium. She noted that it would be "tough to have a report come out and say this wasn't fair knowing that while the report was going on, that people were executed." (Associated Press, May 9, 2002).
  • A filibuster in the Senate kept a 2001 moratorium bill from being voted on. The bill, which passed the House in March, would have suspended executions pending the results of a University of Maryland study on racial disparities in the death penalty. See alsowww.quixote.org/ej Nevertheless, de facto moratorium on executions is in place while the state's high court prepares to rule on the constitutionality of the state statute in the fall.
  • The Maryland General Assembly passed a bill granting inmates access to DNA testing if a judge believes the evidence might prove their innocence. The measure awaits action by the governor.