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Death to Capital Punishment

PHOTO: Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signs death penalty repeal today (Thursday). Photo credit: Executive Office of the Governor
PHOTO: Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signs death penalty repeal today (Thursday). Photo credit: Executive Office of the Governor
May 2, 2013

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - With Gov. Martin O'Malley's signature, Maryland becomes the sixth state in six years to abolish the death penalty. Shari Silberstein, executive director, Equal Justice USA, said more lawmakers across the country are starting to realize capital punishment is not working.

"They're seeing that innocent people get sentenced to death and sometimes executed; they're seeing that the system costs a lot more than other systems, like life without parole."

Maryland's last execution was in 2005. Now the harshest sentence will be life without the possibility of parole.

Death penalty supporters said the new law gives prosecutors fewer options for dealing with criminals who commit the most terrible crimes, but Silberstein countered that it will save the state and local jurisdictions millions of dollars, because death penalty trials are so complicated and expensive.

"In these cases, there's more pretrial motions, there are more investigations, there are more witnesses, there are more attorneys," she said.

O'Malley's vocal support for death penalty repeal is a reflection of the national mood, she added.

"A few years ago, you would not necessarily see a governor with national ambitions making the end of the death penalty a banner issue, but supporting 'repeal the death penalty now' is no longer a politically risky move," Silberstein said.

Alison Burns, Public News Service - MD