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Maryland to Eliminate the Death Penalty

Maryland is poised to become the 18th state to outlaw the death penalty after the state legislature voted by a strong margin to do so. The governor says he will sign the bill, which would commute the sentences of those on death row to life in prison without parole.

Maryland’s General Assembly on Friday completed its repeal of the death penalty, nearly 40 years after the U.S. Supreme Court restored capital punishment.

The House of Delegates’ 82-56 vote followed Senate approval last week.

Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat who proposed the repeal, will sign the measure into law next month, his office said Friday afternoon. That will make Maryland the 18th state to overturn capital punishment since it was reintroduced in 1976…

The governor, who pushed the repeal since taking office in 2007, said the General Assembly’s action ended a policy that “is proven not to work.”

“Evidence shows that the death penalty is not a deterrent, it cannot be administered without racial bias, and it costs three times as much as life in prison without parole,” he said. “What’s more, there is no way to reverse a mistake if an innocent person is put to death.”

Exactly right. Bravo, Maryland.

Comments

  1. says

    Two good pieces of legislative news out of Maryland in recent months! (the other one being same-sex marriages becoming legal as of January 1.)

    I’ve never understood how killing people who kill people showed that killing people was wrong.

  2. doublereed says

    The Senate also just passed decriminalization of marijuana, but I don’t know if it will actually pass O’Malley and the House.

  3. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    One thing you never get with the death penalty though is repeat offenders.

  4. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Or any possibility of the convicted criminal* escaping or organising others to committ crimes outside of gaol.

    * Remember these are scumbags found guilty – often repeatedly found guilty given appeals – beyond any reasonable doubt of the very worst offences.

  5. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ 2. Gregory in Seattle :

    I’ve never understood how killing people who kill people showed that killing people was wrong.

    Punishment equals the crime – an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, life for a life. Equal value punishment and criminal act although the criminal takes innocent lives and the court sentences a guilty one.

    See also do unto others, karma and basic notions of justice.

    Does that help any?

    Empathy with others is good but here the people we should try to empathise with and support most are the victims of crime and NOT the perpetrators of it.

  6. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Oh & nearly forget – capital punishment shows and emphasises how seriously society as a whole takes certain particularly horrific crimes.

    Plus it has the same sort of preventative function that shooting a rabid dog has – a rabid dog is destroyed to ensue it never again poses a threat. Same applies for the human equivalents whoare so messed up in their heads that they will *always* pose such a threat again eg,. serial killers, rapists and child molesters. We all made permanently safer and our minds put at ease by the removal of particular dangerous threats to our lives.

    Sometimes, hell most of the time, “rehabilitation” doesn’t really work. For the criminal as well as the victims of crime. A quick death sentence could also arguably be more merciful than a prolonged miserable life entirely spent behind bars.

    so :

    1.) Equality of punishment equalling crime.
    2.) Certain prevention of further crimes by the criminal in question & protection of society and everyone else’s lives.
    3.) Mercy and effective if extreme treatment for the criminal.

  7. says

    Ever notice that the same people who insist that the government can’t be trusted to ensure everyone gets adequate health care have no problem giving the government the power to decide who lives and who deserves to die?

  8. rabbitscribe says

    So SteveR, what’s an acceptable error rate? Currently it seems we’re somewhere north of fifteen percent, extrapolating from The Innocence Project’s numbers.

  9. doublereed says

    Stevor are you serious? Are you really supporting the idea of Karma, a religious idea where half of it is pure victim-blaming and the other half is pure Just-World Hypothesis… in an openly atheist forum?

    “Eye for an Eye” is a barbaric justice system. We don’t do that anymore because we’re not barbarians. At least some of us aren’t.

    And you betray yourself by saying that a life-in-prison is worse than execution but we should do capital punishment to show that ‘we’re serious.’ Those arguments are blatantly contradictory.

  10. ricko says

    As a former Maryland citizen (hello St. Mary’s School in Hagerstown), this is a fine decision. It comes after my current state, Wisconsin, decided to get ride of it well over 100 years ago… After 1 execution.

  11. Doug Little says

    One thing you never get with the death penalty though is repeat offenders.

    So what’s better, running the risk of a repeat offenders vs running the risk of state sanctioned murder of innocent people.

    I don’t have any numbers but I would think that repeat offenders of capital crimes (in non death penalty states) would be lower than innocent people that currently sit on death row.

    If you are in jail for a capital crime it normally means you are in a max security prison for life with out the chance of parole. How many people have escaped and not been caught from this type of situation before committing another capital crime?

  12. sinned34 says

    The punishment should fit the crime, with an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, etc.

    So, what should be the punishment for smoking marijuana? The only victim of that crime is the death of some of the smokers’ own brain cells.

  13. otrame says

    I am opposed to the death penalty for many reasons, political, social, and ethical, and not one of my reasons has anything to do with sympathy for the criminal.

    In fact it pisses me off that McVeigh died only a couple of years after he killed those people. I wanted him to end up like Richard Speck*: living 40 years in prison, never even a chance of getting out.

    *he raped and murdered seven women in a student nurse’s dorm.

  14. valhar2000 says

    [...]it costs three times as much as life in prison without parole[...]

    How is this?

    So, what should be the punishment for smoking marijuana?

    Nothing whatsoever, which is in fact the correct answer. However, the sort of authoritarians who advocate criminalization of consensual behavior do not care much for consistency or logic: they’ll usually just use whatever argument seems to fit the current situation best.

  15. says

    It’s kind of too late to be saying this in 20-freaking-13, but congratulations Maryland on taking the first baby-step towards joining the civilised world.

    (You’ll be using SI measuring units and 50 cycle power next ….. ;) )

  16. laurentweppe says

    “Evidence shows that the death penalty is not a deterrent, it cannot be administered without racial bias, and it costs three times as much as life in prison without parole,” he said. “What’s more, there is no way to reverse a mistake if an innocent person is put to death.”

    Geez: he says that like it’s a bad thing. How much would you bet that a non-negligible fraction of death-penalty supporters don’t care that’s it’s not a deterrent, are in favor of the racial bias, never gave and never will give a shit about the cost and want Justice to tell bald-faced lies once they realize thay killed an innocent?

    Case in point:

    One thing you never get with the death penalty though is repeat offenders.

    You get a lot of repeat offenders: all the murderers who got away with their first murder(s) because of a botched police investigation and a rigged trial which sent the who guy on the death row.

    But of course you don’t care, right? So long as a dysfunctional justice system does not harm You directly, you all in favor of it.

    ***

    “Eye for an Eye” is a barbaric justice system. We don’t do that anymore because we’re not barbarians. At least some of us aren’t.

    Are you mad? “Eye for an Eye” looks like a hyppie commune’s ethos compared to Stevor’s repeatedly professed suport for a “The whole fucking face and the rest of the family for a black eye” system.

  17. says

    SteveoR wrote:

    One thing you never get with the death penalty though is repeat offenders.

    Of course you do, but it’s by the actual guilty person who continued to walk the streets committing crimes while the innocent person is convicted and put to death. The question above is an excellent one: What is an acceptable error rate to you? We’ve now had more than 300 people exonerated by DNA evidence, which only exists in a small percentage of cases. That means they were convicted on the basis of the same kinds of evidence that convicted the other 90% where there is no DNA evidence. Yes, that’s true of those who don’t get the death penalty as well, but at least there is an opportunity for being proven innocent later with life imprisonment.

    I don’t have a moral problem with putting someone to death for murdering another person, I have a pragmatic problem with it. As I have been documenting on this blog for nearly a decade now, our criminal justice system is broken from top to bottom. I simply do not have confidence, nor should anyone else, that the system is reliable enough in distinguishing guilt from innocence to have the certainty required to impose an irreversible penalty.

  18. says

    @ laurentweppe:

    You get a lot of repeat offenders: all the murderers who got away with their first murder(s) because of a botched police investigation and a rigged trial which sent the who guy on the death row.

    I am so nickingborrowing that, next time some idiot makes the asinine “no repeat offenders” remark.

  19. thebookofdave says

    StevoR shows off his idea of justice by going Old Testament on us. Better ten innocents suffer than one guilty person escape, eh?

  20. thumper1990 says

    @SteveoR

    Punishment equals the crime – an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, life for a life.

    Funnily enough, most of us through that shit out of the window along with the book it was written in.

  21. jnorris says

    Expect to see an increase in Maryland’s murder tourism as killers from southern states arrange to meet their victims in Baltimore for a quiki two-shot and return flight. Maryland should have required out-of-state killers stay overnight to avoid the death penalty. That increases hotel and restaurant traffic.

  22. jba55 says

    I used to be pro-death penalty but after giving it some serious thought I came to the same conclusion about it that I came to about eugenics. It’s not so much that the *concept* is bad in and of itself (some people shouldn’t breed, some people shouldn’t live) it’s just that I can’t think of a single person, up to and including myself, I would trust to implement it and the risks are just to much.

    @15 Clearly the only rational punishment is for the “perp”, if you will, to smoke more marijuana. I also suggest house arrest except to go to work-release, the store and occasional concerts.

  23. Doug Little says

    You get a lot of repeat offenders: all the murderers who got away with their first murder(s) because of a botched police investigation and a rigged trial which sent the who wrong guy on the to death row.

    Never thought of it that way, this is pure gold.

  24. lofgren says

    So, what should be the punishment for smoking marijuana?

    In order to atone for your flagrant violation of our marijuana prohibition, you must spend no less than two years… smoking marijuana! We’ll see how you like it once you have had all of the government-grown, hydroponic sticky you can handle! You’re just lucky I don’t confine you to your mother’s basement to listen to Pink Floyd and play Portal for the entire duration.

    Empathy with others is good but here the people we should try to empathise with and support most are the victims of crime and NOT the perpetrators of it.

    We saw this attitude recently with the conclusion of the Steubenville, OH rape trial when the internet went batshit fucking insane over a couple of lines from a several minutes-long CNN report that overall portrayed the rapists pretty much as monsters but then showed some tepid empathy with them for a couple of lines. I have to say, I don’t get it. I don’t have a limited supply of empathy. Empathizing with the perpetrator does not reduce my empathy for the victim. And I would argue that denigrating or refusing to acknowledge empathy with the criminal is dangerous, counterproductive, and even unjust. Our justice system is built on a foundation of empathy, with BOTH parties, as it should be, because they are BOTH human beings with emotions and loved ones and motives and lives that they will live. You don’t have any personal responsibility to empathize with any individual perp, but empathizing with criminals is the first step to better understanding their behaviors and hopefully redirecting similar potential criminals in the future. The first step towards a more just world is accepting that criminals are people just like you and I.

  25. laurentweppe says

    You’re just lucky I don’t confine you to your mother’s basement to listen to Pink Floyd and play Portal for the entire duration.

    Two years with GlaDOS? That’s certainly crual and unexpected punishment

  26. CSB says

    I seriously don’t understand why the American right wing is so desperate to cheer on the death penalty. I mean, it’s practically an article of faith that the government can’t do anything right, but they’re still willing to trust said government with the power to decide who lives and who dies.

    As far as the deterrent effect goes, there was an article in the Michigan Bar Journal that points out an interesting example of the exact opposite happening: although pickpocketing was a hanging offense in 18th-century London, such hangings were when pickpockets met with the most success — everyone’s attention was aimed at the condemned, rather than themselves.

  27. Ogvorbis says

    I seriously don’t understand why the American right wing is so desperate to cheer on the death penalty.

    Warning for cynicism:

    Because the American right wing knows that only blacks, Latinos, women, Muslims, the poor will be wrongly convicted — the white male actually is presumed innocent and all the others are presumed guilty. Plus the defunding of public defenders means the poor get inadequate representation. The right is privileged in knowing that, even if they did kill someone, their punishment, if they are even convicted, will be minimal. “Some of you may die, but that is a risk I am willing to take [to preserve my privilege].”

  28. Amphiox says

    an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, life for a life.

    I find it ironic to see StevoR, self-declared lover of “Western” civilization, choosing to present an argument that orginated in the civilization of Ancient Iraq.

    See also do unto others,

    And here he gets the biblical reference completely backwards. It is “do unto others” what YOU WISH THAT THEY WOULD DO UNTO YOU, not what they have done to yet more others.

    I doubt that StevoR will ever come to understand this, but that statement is a blanket argument AGAINST capital punishment in all its forms and all circumstances.

  29. Ichthyic says

    SteveO continues to demonstrate his little black heart, despite his continued protestations that he’s innocent of all charges.

  30. Ichthyic says

    …bookmarked for future reference the next time Stevie plays innocent over on Pharyngula.

  31. Ichthyic says

    Because the American right wing knows that only blacks, Latinos, women, Muslims, the poor will be wrongly convicted —

    it’s actually more than that. At its root is the conviction of all authoritarians that they are blameless, and it will always be “the other” that will be found guilty, never themselves.

    First they came…

  32. dingojack says

    Since 1976 there have been 1,321 executions* in the US. If about 15%** didn’t actually commit the crime then about 198 murders got away with it. and 198 innocent people died (plus those they subsequently went on to kill)
    Dingo
    ——–
    * 5093 since 1930. 15%** = 764 got away with it; 764+ innocent people died
    ** I suspect this is underestimating the actual value by 50 to 250 percent

    PS: Concerning all those extra murders committed by escaped prisoners (and the ‘ones that got away’), the Bureau of Justice Statistics notes:

    > Released prisoners with the highest rearrest rates were robbers (70.2%), burglars (74.0%), larcenists (74.6%), motor vehicle thieves (78.8%), those in prison for possessing or selling stolen property (77.4%), and those in prison for possessing, using, or selling illegal weapons (70.2%).
    > Within 3 years, 2.5% of released rapists were arrested for another rape, and 1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were arrested for homicide.

  33. Muse says

    StevoR – are you remotely familiar with the Innocence Project? Are you familiar perhaps with the names Sacco and Vanzetti? Are you aware of the cost of the death penalty? Hell – not being an American, much less a Marylander, are you aware of habeas corpus? Also – let’s just see if you take the bait on this one, if the penalty for murder is death, is the penalty for rape, rape?

  34. thumper1990 says

    @Muse

    That’s always been my issue with “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. Apart from the fact it self-evidently makes you as bad as them, how does that translate to “he stole a TV, chop his hand off”? Or “He raped someone, make him marry them”? It’s not followed consistantly, and thus is basically used as an excuse to do horrible things to people in an effort to terrify them into doing what the established authority wants.

  35. David Marjanović says

    StevoR, you’re the prime example for why it’s evil not to think things through, and for why it’s evil to make arguments from ignorance.

    One thing you never get with the death penalty though is repeat offenders.

    Unless of course the state convicted and murdered the wrong person.

    Which, of course, never happens. Never ever ever ever ever.

    Or any possibility of the convicted criminal* escaping or organising others to committ crimes outside of gaol.

    Unless of course…

    * Remember these are scumbags found guilty – often repeatedly found guilty given appeals – beyond any reasonable doubt of the very worst offences.

    Georgia killed an innocent man just last year! How did you manage not to notice!?!

    Punishment equals the crime

    …So if somebody murders two people, you execute them twice?

    And if somebody rapes a child…

    …no, really, let’s not go there. Let’s just leave it at stating that your crap is the stupidest crap I’ve read in a long time.

    Have you really never heard of “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind“?

    Oh & nearly forget – capital punishment shows and emphasises how seriously society as a whole takes certain particularly horrific crimes.

    It shows and emphasises how short-sighted a society is, how willing it is to turn its reason off and just cry for revenge instead.

    Plus it has the same sort of preventative function that shooting a rabid dog has – a rabid dog is destroyed to ensue it never again poses a threat. Same applies for the human equivalents whoare so messed up in their heads that they will *always* pose such a threat again eg,. serial killers, rapists and child molesters.

    Show me the papers, o great psychologist, or it didn’t happen.

    A quick death sentence could also arguably be more merciful than a prolonged miserable life entirely spent behind bars.

    And… you get to make that decision. Right?

  36. Lofty says

    StevoR: I hereby appoint you Lord Chief High Executioner of Titipu. It’s about as far as your sick ideas will take you.

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