Target: Maryland Senate
Goal: Applaud Maryland’s Senate for repealing the cruel and unusual death penalty
The State Senate of Maryland deserves commendation for a recent decision to repeal its death penalty. The measure to repeal capital punishment in the state passed 27 to 20 after four days of debate. It will move on to the House of Delegates, where it is expected to pass. If it does so, Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley, a long-time opponent of capital punishment, will sign the bill and make Maryland the eighteenth state in the nation to abolish executions. He said, “It’s time to end this ineffective and expensive practice and put our efforts behind crime fighting strategies that work.”
Death penalty sentences are long, expensive processes, and many are overturned. Those that aren’t can often take place more than 20 years after sentencing, as repeated appeals work their way through the courts.
Of the 33 states that permit the death penalty, very few actually carry out executions. In 2012, 43 inmates were executed, with Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Mississippi accounting for about 75 percent of them. Maryland, despite having five inmates currently on death row, has not executed a prisoner since 2005. The bill will replace the death sentence with life terms in prison without the possibility of parole. Those five inmates, however, will not be affected. Instead, it will be up to the governor whether or not to commute their sentences.
Capital punishment remains a controversial subject in the United States, which is the only western, industrialized nation to keep it in practice. Opponents of the death penalty have pointed to its failure as a deterrent to violent crime, its tendency towards racial discrimination, and the terrible possibility of executing those wrongfully found guilty of crime. During the debates, Democratic Senator Victor Ramirez cited statistics that showed Maryland has been more likely to impose the death penalty in cases involving black assailants and white victims. He said, “We have a broken system here in Maryland. If we can’t fix it, we need to get rid of it.” Since 1973, over 140 people have been exonerated and released from death row.
Applaud the Maryland Senate for at last taking steps to end a cruel and unusual punishment.
Dear Maryland Senate,
Thank you for repealing the death penalty in your state. The United States remains in the minority of nations that still employ capital punishment, but with your repeal, Maryland is on track to become the eighteenth state to abolish it.
Capital punishment is cruel and unusual. It fails as a deterrent to violent crime and wastes taxpayer money and court resources. It is also all too often unfairly meted out with racial discrimination, and not infrequently applied in cases of mistaken guilt. A nation that respects life cannot endorse official executions, and I thank you for taking steps that will move us towards a more civilized society.
[Your Name Here]
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