Maryland Panel Calls for Repeal of Death Penalty


Citing the risk of executing an innocent person and several other concerns with the administration of capital punishment, the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment yesterday voted 13-7 to recommend repealing the state’s death penalty.

The panel was created by the legislature in May and Gov. Martin O’Malley appointed a wide range of legal experts and observers to review the state’s practice of capital punishment and determine whether the death penalty is good public policy. Last night’s vote came in advance of the presentation of a full report to the governor and legislature next month.

Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck testified before the panel in September, telling members that states with capital punishment risk executing the innocent because the root causes of wrongful convictions have not been remedied. DNA exoneree

Kirk Bloodsworth

also testified, telling the panel that he is “living proof that Maryland gets it wrong.”

And commission chairman Benjamin Civiletti told the Washington Post why he voted to recommend abolishing capital punishment:

"I don't have a firm opinion on the morality of the death penalty," said Civiletti, who served as attorney general under President Jimmy Carter (D) and was tapped by O'Malley (D) last summer to lead the panel. But he said he opposed execution for "pragmatic" reasons, among them that "it's haphazard in how it is applied."

Read the full story

. (Washington Post, 11/13/08)

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