“Will we be a society that’s guided by the fundamental civil and human rights that we understand are bestowed on humankind by God? A society guided by the dignity of every individual. A society that is always moving forward to what’s right.”
Gov. Martin O’Malley announced Tuesday he will submit legislation to the General Assembly that would repeal the death penalty in Maryland. This announcement underscores the turning of the tide in favor of a society that understands that every dollar that is spent on a broken death penalty system is a dollar we are not spending on violence prevention and on buttressing mental health services and compensation programs for murder victims’ family members that aid their healing.
Throughout the press conference, the governor acknowledged that the death penalty is a waste of resources that could be used in more productive ways to fight crime. His statement is backed up by several studies. A 2008 study by the Urban Institute shows that an average death penalty eligible case costs Maryland tax-payers $1.8 million in prison costs and legal fees. While the death penalty has sometimes been claimed to be crime deterrent, the governor referenced crime rates in Baltimore as evidence that capital punishment does nothing to quell violence.
Gov. O’Malley also addressed the impact the appeals process has on the families and loved ones waiting for a conclusion of the judicial process. Although there have been no executions in Maryland since 2005,three of the five men sitting on death row were first sentenced to death over 30 years ago.
Maryland’s death penalty repeal bill will be part of a legislative packet designed to curb gun violence, including an assault weapons ban, school safety proposals and expanded mental health services. We applaud Gov. O’Malley’s proactive leadership to prevent violence and prioritize healing. You can read his speech here.
GET INVOLVED! Maryland’s announcement is one of many we hope to be sharing with you in the coming weeks that focus on death penalty repeal. Delaware, Colorado – or your state – could be next!
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