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March 2, 2009

Databases for death penalty debate

When Gov. Martin O’Malley said he would do “everything in my power” to overturn the death penalty in Maryland this year, that apparently included tapping into large databases he has amassed as a politician and as governor.

O’Malley distributed mass emails today and yesterday, both urging recipients to contact their state senators and urge them to vote to end capital punishment.

A key Senate vote could come as soon as tomorrow. “It looks like the vote will be close,” O’Malley said in Sunday email, which was distributed by his campaign.

Perhaps things changes a little overnight. Says today’s email, which was sent directly from the governor’s office: “The vote tomorrow is expected to be very, very close, and results may very well hinge on last-minute decisions by just a handful of senators.

O’Malley’s campaign database includes tens of thousands of names. His official one is even larger. The potential impact of the governor’s outreach is significant. Our sources tell us that a third electronic mailing is on the way, from the O’Malley-controlled state Democratic Party.

The campaign email directs supporters to a link on the campaign Web site, which allows users to identify their own senator and immediately send a pre-written email. It also provides anti-death penalty talking points for those who want to customize the message. The official email steers Marylanders to the website of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions.

It’s worth noting that the economic argument against the death penalty is becoming more prominent, aided by a front-page article in the New York Times last week that featured the Maryland debate.

A commission studying the death penalty “found that the cost to taxpayers of pursuing a capital punishment conviction was three times as much as the cost of pursuing a non-death penalty homicide conviction,” O’Malley said in both emails

“During these times of economic crisis, those are funds we could be investing in crime prevention or assisting victims’ families,” he said.

We’ll try to find out which senators get the most emails, and what they think of them, based on O’Malley’s efforts.

Click below to see the full email from the governor.

Om Alley Death Email

Posted by David Nitkin at 1:07 PM | | Comments (2)


The only reason that a death sentence costs more is because of the appeals process. There is the automatic appeal to the Court of Special Appeals, if that doesn't succeed they go to the Maryland Court of Appeals, if there is no success there they head to the Federal courts. They go to the United States Distinct Court then to the United States Court of Appeals, then the Supreme Court, the President Of The United States then to the Governor of Maryland. They drag out the appellate process so long it's pathetic.
If the appellate process were not so long and drawn out the cost would be less than a life without possibility of parole sentence. The state would not have to feed, clothe, house, guard, provide free legal services and take care of the convicted murderer's health needs for the rest of his or her life.

And yet, with all those appeal opportunities, the United States has still executed innocent people. Maryland nearly executed an innocent man -- Kirk Bloodsworth, who was in prison nine years for a crime he didn't commit. Is the commenter above suggesting that we should try to have the death penalty on the cheap? Do you want to walk around every day knowing that a mistaken jury could sentence you to death, and you couldn't do anything about it? We have seen over recent decades that this society cannot handle the death penalty -- yet more evidence that humans will never be perfect enough to do so.

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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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