News 01.16.13

Maryland Considers Death Penalty Repeal

Huffington Post blogger David A. Love, the Executive Director of Witness to Innocence, made his case for ending the death penalty in Maryland on Tuesday while Governor Martin O’Malley and state lawmakers consider a repeal vote in the legislature.

 

Love writes about the prevalence of wrongful convictions in death row cases:


Since 1973, 142 innocent men and women were freed from death row, three of them this past year. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, the most common factors associated with murder exonerations are perjury and false accusations, followed by official misconduct, mistaken witness identification, false confessions and false and misleading forensic evidence.

 



 

A Louisiana death row survivor, Damon Thibodeaux became the 141st person exonerated from death row in 40 years. In addition, he was the 300th wrongfully convicted person exonerated through DNA evidence, and the 18th death row inmate freed through DNA. He had falsely confessed after a nine-hour interrogation, and subsequently recanted on the ground he was coerced.

The 18 people who were exonerated by DNA testing in the United States after serving time on death row were convicted in 11 states and served a combined 229 years in prison – including 202 years on death row – for crimes they didn’t commit.


With the death penalty, the stakes are high and the innocent are killed. And the families of the victims do not receive justice.

Although executions are on the decline nationwide, 33 states still have the death penalty on the books. But, as Love notes, only nine states made use of it in 2012. Efforts to end executions and reform the death penalty are currently being considered in Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Oregon and Texas. In recent years, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York have abolished the death penalty.

 


Witness to Innocence

is a national nonprofit organization that empowers exonerated death row prisoners and their families to become effective leaders in the movement to abolish the capital punishment.

 

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