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November 23, 2012

Talk (again) of possible death penalty repeal in Maryland

There has been talk in many recent years about Maryland potentially being the next state to repeal its death penalty.  This new local article, headlined " Death penalty repeal back on Maryland legislative agenda: Failure of repeal in California will have little effect, advocates say," explains why some think that 2013 might be (and also still might not be) the year that this talk becomes reality.  Here are the basics:

Despite the high-profile failure of a measure to repeal the death penalty in California, Maryland activists are optimistically looking to the 2013 legislative session to end capital punishment in the state.  “We think this is the year to pass this repeal,” said Jane Henderson, executive director of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions.

Henderson cites what appears to be a less-cluttered agenda for the session as reason for optimism.  “We came up short last year largely because there was so much on the agenda,” Henderson said.

Bills to repeal the death penalty have been introduced, and failed to reach the floor of either chamber for a vote, in 10 of the past 12 legislative sessions....

Sen. Lisa A. Gladden (D-Dist. 41) of Baltimore, who has sponsored legislation in the past and reintroduced a bill again this year, is less optimistic about the chance for passage, but said she would be happy just to see both chambers take a vote on the issue.

In past years, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee has squashed a repeal bill before it could come to a vote.  Gladden, the vice chairwoman of the committee, said that one of the 11 members would have to have a change of heart for the bill to make it to the floor in 2013.  “I think it’s this year or no year,” Gladden said.  “But we still need to work with the politics of the House [of Delegates], and on the committee.”

Gladden and House sponsor Del. Samuel I. “Sandy” Rosenberg (D-Dist. 41) of Baltimore, are adding language this year allocating any funds saved in repealing the death penalty to support the families of murder victims.  Capital cases, in which prosecutors seek the death penalty, tend to be significantly more expensive to prosecute than noncapital cases.

“If you think about all the hundreds of families in Baltimore who are left when someone is killed, there are not enough resources for those families,” Gladden said.  “We can take the money we would have used killing people and put it toward support of victims.”

According to the Office of the Public Defender, capital cases cost about $1.9 million annually in the legal system.  The office estimates that the same cases could be tried as noncapital cases for about $650,000.

In 2009, the General Assembly passed legislation that restricted the use of the death penalty to cases with DNA evidence, video confession or conclusive video evidence. “There are a lot of hoops to jump through,” said Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R-Dist. 34) of Abingdon, a member of the Senate Judicial Committee who has voted against the repeal bill in the past.  “We have safeguards in [the regulations].”...

“If you have a death penalty on the books, and duly promulgated regulations, you should be able to move forward on it,” said Sen. Christopher B. Shank (R-Dist. 2) of Hagerstown, who also is on the Judicial Proceedings Committee and opposes repeal.  “If the General Assembly needs to makes some clarifications so that can happen, we should do that.”

Jacobs also favors putting new protocols in place to allow executions to proceed. “One of my constituents was murdered, and the gentleman got the death penalty,” Jacobs said. “To many people, it’s a matter of principle.”

November 23, 2012 at 07:38 PM | Permalink

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Comments

This is a great article on what and how the legislative is proceeding on this matter. This is an important issue and needs to get a vote, one way or another. In the meantime while the accused sits behind bars they need to make sure they have the best Criminal Attorney's available to them. I would recommend if you live in the Baltimore area that you visit this website http://www.alpersteinanddiener.com/practice-areas/Criminal-Law

Posted by: Pam Simmons | Dec 18, 2012 3:35:05 PM

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