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March 21, 2009

The latest news on Maryland's continuing debate over death penalty reform

The Baltimore Sun reports here on the latest development from Maryland on legislative reform of death penalty administration.  Here are the particulars:

A House of Delegates committee approved the Senate's plan yesterday to restrict capital punishment to cases with specific kinds of evidence, a major step toward added limitations on Maryland's death penalty that could receive final legislative approval as soon as next week.

Gov. Martin O'Malley had called on the Senate to abolish the death penalty, and the House appeared poised to follow suit. But the governor urged delegates this week to abandon the repeal in favor of the Senate plan. In the view of some death penalty supporters, however, the limitations are tantamount to a repeal....

Under the Senate proposal, prosecutors could seek capital punishment only in murder cases in which the crime was caught on videotape, the defendant confesses on video tape, or DNA or biological evidence links the defendant to the crime. Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, a former Montgomery County prosecutor and death penalty supporter, said this week that the legislature's proposal "significantly limits the death penalty so as to almost nullify it in the state of Maryland."

March 21, 2009 at 09:33 AM | Permalink


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I understand that some prosecutors will be upset with the proposed narrowing of the capital statute, but I wonder if any defense/abolition types are a wee bit nervous about this potential new regime? Could it not have a distorting effect on the system by placing heavy pressure on police, prosecutors, and forensic sciences in high-profile cases to produce either a videotaped confession or biological evidence? Those things may be harder to procure improperly than other types of evidence, but certainly not impossible...

Posted by: Observer | Mar 23, 2009 10:03:49 AM

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