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February 27, 2009

Death penalty debate could end with fizzle

Today, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee rejected a bill that would repeal the death penalty. Like two years ago, the effort failed on a 5-5 tie vote (a majority is needed for passage).

For most legislation, that would be the end of the story. But not this bill. Not this year.

Gov. Martin O’Malley has said he would do “everything in my power” to end capital punishment in Maryland this year. He’s calling for a full vote in the Senate, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller says that will happen – as soon as next week.

Miller is putting aside his respect for the committee process and allowing a rare procedural move to unfold. When the committee result – known in Annapolis as a report – comes to the floor, a senator will recommend that the report be rejected, and that the full bill be substituted in its place. That way, the full Senate can debate the measure.

“This is a bill of some importance,” Miller, a death penalty supporter, said this morning before the committee action. “A bill that the public reads about and expects their legislators to take a stand.”

Miller supports the death penalty. And no one knows the thinking of the other 46 members of the Senate better than him.

“I don’t anticipate a long, protracted debate,” Miller said yesterday. “I think I know where the votes will be.”

That sounds like the Great Death Penalty Debate of ’09 could end wth a fizzle. A Baltimore Sun survey of senators showed that majority want to keep capital punishment.

So after next week the Assembly could put the death penalty behind it for another year, and get back to talking about just how bad the state budget is.

Posted by David Nitkin at 3:33 PM | | Comments (4)


I sincerely hope this prediction is correct. The attack on the death penalty has been dishonest through and through: discounting clear evidence of deterrence, inflated claims of expense, and the notorious list of supposedly innocent people that is chock full of murderers who got away with it.

Once repeal is out of the way, the Maryland Legislature should focus its attention on cutting off these interminable appeals on issues having nothing to do with guilt or innocence. They carry out executions in 5 years in Virginia, and Maryland can, too.

Dishonesty is one of Martin O'Malley's favorite traits.
Take that trait away from him and he could have been a contender.
5 death row inmates who sit now on death row are white.
5 who have been executed in the last 20 years have been white.

Martin O'Malley prays for criminals.
Does he say this same prayer for aborted babies?

He thinks its ok to fund abortions because he funds them.

I am waiting to see O'Malley lead the march on Annapolis with the relatives and survivors of the victims of those he marched for last week.

I have been studying the death penalty for years - reading virtually everything I could so I could formulate an objective opinion.

There are so many nuances to this issue but for me, I think it is wrong. Justice must be served but putting someone on Death Row, going through the appeals process - very, very costly - and then 10 to 15 years later executing them just doesn't make sense to me.

Life without parole would guarantee their incarceration and maybe, just maybe they might become a better person and prove their value as a human being.

The word penitentiary is based on the word penitence. Does that strike a chord for someone living out their years in the penal system and not being a threat to anyone?

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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