Maryland Will Be the 18th State To Abolish Death Penalty

The Maryland House of Delegates has today passed a bill, approved by the State Senate on March 6, that replaces capital punishment with the sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Governor Martin O’Malley is expected to sign the bill.

Hooray for Maryland!

This would make Maryland the 18th state in the US to ban capital punishment, and the sixth state in as many years to bring a repeal. In the last six years, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Illinois have repealed the death penalty. (The District of Columbia has also rejected capital punishment.)

As a former resident of Maryland, I am thrilled that the state has chosen to reject this barbaric punishment.

Maryland currently has five men on death row, though the measure makes it clear the governor can commute their sentences to life in prison. The state last executed someone in 2005.

Capital punishment has been on hold in Maryland since a December 2006 ruling by the state’s highest court that the lethal injection protocols had not been properly approved by a legislative committee.

Many of us hoped that last November California would become the latest state to see the light and decide to get rid of capital punishment, but instead 52 percent of California voters cast ballots to keep the death penalty. Nevertheless, this slim majority indicates that Californians are growing increasingly concerned with the costs and unfairness of the death penalty.

But with today’s Maryland news, we can hope that the tide is really turning, and the US is no longer embracing the death penalty. In recent years, the number of government-ordered executions has fallen: there were a total of 43 executions nationwide in 2011 and again in 2012, compared with 85 executions in 2000. In addition, death sentences have declined by 75% and executions by 60% since the 1990s.

Along with China, Iran, North Korea and Yemen, the United States currently leads the world in carrying out the most death sentences. What great company we are in.

Yet worldwide there seems to be a general trend toward the abolition of capital punishment. Over the past decade,†31 countries have eliminated the death penalty in law or practice. The US should be the next country.

And indeed, legislatures in several other states are considering getting rid of death sentences: Colorado and Delaware will be seriously considering death penalty repeal bills in the coming weeks.

Mona Cadena, state strategist for Equal Justice USA declares today’s vote in Maryland to be a “decisive victory.”

“This is a thrilling day,” she states, “and a victory that has been many years in the making.” She continues, “Things are definitely changing in this country. So many states are asking critical questions now, like ‘Is the death penalty worth our time, given all the problems with racism and errors?’ And the bottom line is asking whether it’s OK to execute an innocent person. One by one, states are saying ‘No’ to the death penalty.”

In Maryland, as in the rest of the country,† there have been significant racial disparities; four out of the five men on the state’s death row are African-Americans whose victims were white.

Deliberately taking another personís life is not justice, but nothing more than a crude instrument of revenge. It is a cruel and degrading punishment, and the US should banish the death penalty now.

Congratulations to Maryland for doing the right thing.


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Photo Credit: MDGovpics


Les M.
Les M4 years ago

maryland is literally down the road and across the river from me (less than 2 miles.) i wish virginia would abolish the death penalty but i don't see it happening.

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra4 years ago

Thank you Judy, for Sharing this!

Danuta Watola
Danuta W4 years ago

thanks for sharing

Annmari Lundin
Annmari L4 years ago

Syd H. 5:01PM PDT on Mar 18, 2013
Statistics can be used to promote any agenda, so I'm not going to dwell about your numbers. Only add somthing to your final comment. The British law system is different from any other country, and any other country in the world has its own. Life in prison means about 14 years in Britain. In Sweden about 18-30. In Norway at least 21, but could be indefinate (Compare the massmurder of July 22, 2011). And, life without the possibility of parole are handled differently all over the USA. Some spend all their lifes behind bars, some get out after 15-20 or after spending 25 inside. If there were a national law defining a life sentence, it could be established as being for the rest of the prisoners life. Then it would mean that the public would be protected, the families of the victim never having to see the prisoner again (at parole hearings, appeals, etc.) and that the convicted could start paying back what they owe the victims by being forced to work.
Too many innocent people have been executed already. One more is one too many!

Winn Adams
Winn A4 years ago


Will Rogers
Will Rogers4 years ago

I oppose the death penalty.

Lydia Weissmuller Price

When they first developed the ability for DNA testing, I was shocked at how many persons in prison were exonerated by it. Immediately, I thought of the many who were sent to their death proclaiming their innocence. How many persons have died for something they didn't do? Unless a person is caught red-handed in the act, videotaped DURING the crime, I would not trust the moral integrity of the police, or the intelligence and impartiality of a jury with the life of another human being.

Antoinette S.
Antoinette S4 years ago

Syd H, thanks for the figures, but there are other factors that could account for the increase. We cannot make such generalised conclusions with limited data.
To those who disagree with Maryland's decision, it's not about saving the murderers. Apparently it costs more to enact the death penalty than it does to simply keep a murderer in prison for life without the possibility of parole.

Elisabeth T.
Elisabeth T4 years ago

Thanks for this information..

Stephanie Reap
Stephanie Reap4 years ago