A recent Washington Post opinion poll found that Marylanders prefer the sentence of life in prison over the death penalty. In the October 2007 poll of 1,103 Maryland adults, respondents were asked to choose between the sentence of life in prison without parole or the death penalty for the crime of murder: 52% said they favored life without parole and 43% supported capital punishment. Among black respondents, support for life without parole was even stronger, with 65% responding that they preferred the sentence of life in prison and only 29% choosing the death penalty.

According to the Washington Post, support for capital punishment in theory stands at 60%, but Marylanders hold nuanced views on the issue and are shifting away from the death penalty. Carla Hosford of Chevy Chase noted, “If we kill and they kill, who has learned anything?” In the coming year, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and others who oppose capital punishment are expected to continue efforts to abolish the death penalty in the state.

Last year, a national Washington Post-ABC News poll revealed a similar shift nationally. The poll found that Americans are almost evenly split when given the two sentencing options, with 50% favoring the death penalty and 46% preferring life without parole.

(Washington Post, October 26, 2007). See Public Opinion and Life Without Parole.