Death Penalty Abolition in Maryland: UPDATE 2

March 4, 2009

The Maryland Senate this morning voted for a “compromise” on the bill formerly known as the repeal bill.  In this compromise legislation, the death penalty would be restricted to cases where there is either biological or DNA evidence or some type of video evidence (either a video-taped confession or video of the crime itself).  Death sentences could not be obtained solely on the basis of eye-witness testimony.  Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chair Frosh, who supports repeal, endorsed this legislation, saying that it would “move the ball forward in the right direction.” 

These restrictions, of course, don’t apply retroactively, and Maryland may one day end up executing one or more of the five men currently on Maryland’s death row. 

The compromise bill also doesn’t address the costs of the death penalty, and it certainly doesn’t address the conclusion of the Commission on Capital Punishment report that the death penalty process is more harmful for victims’ families than alternatives.  The Commission reached this conclusion by a near-unanimous 20-1 vote

So, Maryland’s death penalty will remain on the books, and Marylanders will continue paying for it financially, and victims’ families will continue to have to endure a process that all sides have agreed is more painful.