According to a recent Maryland poll, a large majority of voters in the state support replacing the death penalty with a sentence of life without parole. The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc., found that 61% of those surveyed believe that the sentence of life without the possibility of parole is “an acceptable substitute for the death penalty.” Only 27% of respondents disagreed. Support for life without parole in Maryland has jumped nearly 20 percentage points in less than a decade. Six years ago in a comparable poll, only 43% supported life without parole.

The poll was commissioned by the Maryland Catholic Conference, and it was released as Maryland legislators are considering a bill to replace the state’s death penalty with a sentence of life without parole. The poll found that legislators who support the repeal measure will face no repercussions among voters. Of those polled, 71% said that they would either be more likely to support a legislator who voted for the ban (29%) or it would not impact their vote (42%).

“Clearly, the voters realize that the system needs to be reformed and they will support their legislators who decide it makes the most sense to end the death penalty,” said Dick Dowling, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference. The Conference noted that the polling results reflect a growing discomfort with the death penalty due to concerns about problems such as wrongful convictions.

(Maryland Catholic Conference Press Release, “Maryland Voters Support Life Without Parole as Replacement for the Death Penalty by More Than 2-to-1 Margin,” February 28, 2007).

See Public Opinion, Life Without Parole, and Recent Legislative Activity.