Spare the Lives of Death Row Inmates

electric chair

Target: Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley

Goal: Applaud the governor’s decision to commute the sentences of his state’s four remaining death row inmates to life in prison

Killing another human being in the name of justice–even a criminal guilty of unthinkable evil–is seen more and more as an act of great hypocrisy. The death penalty has already been abandoned in many parts of the world including at least 18 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. But the Governor of Maryland was unsatisfied with simply ending the barbaric practice. When his state abolished the death penalty in 2013 there were still four inmates on death row, and he recently moved to commute their sentences to life in prison.

Opponents of the death penalty do not seek to excuse the terrible crimes death row inmates have committed. A lack of dependable drugs to use in lethal injections and the suffering associated with it and the electric chair mean the death penalty violates basic human rights. Despite this the United States has yet to completely abolish the practice. Common Dreams reports the Supreme Court denied an Oklahoma inmate’s recent request for a stay of execution. Charles Warner was put to death with lethal injection. Among his last words were “My body is on fire,” and “it hurts…it feels like acid.”

“Petitioners have committed horrific crimes, and should be punished,” Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in the case’s dissenting opinion. “But the eighth amendment guarantees that no one should be subjected to an execution that causes searing, unnecessary pain before death. I hope that our failure to act today does not portend our unwillingness to consider these questions.”

Praise Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley for acting where the Supreme Court has thus far failed to. His decision to commute the four death row inmates’ sentences to life in prison was an act of great compassion. May other leaders in America and around the world follow his example.


Dear Governor O’Malley,

Your recent decision to show mercy to four Maryland death row inmates is worthy of high praise. As you know commuting their sentences does not in any way forgive their crimes. Rather, you acknowledged the hypocrisy of the death penalty and the sad fact that many forms of execution cause tremendous, unnecessary suffering.

I hope that other governors, national and international leaders will see Maryland’s example and be moved to end their death penalties as well. There is a growing consensus that the practice should be completely abandoned. Thank you for your part in progressing this worthy human rights goal.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Coffee via Pixabay

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