Maryland Commission Report: Abolish the Death Penalty

Yesterday, a legislative commission established to examine the death penalty in Maryland released its final report and recommended the death penalty be abolished.

"There is no good and sufficient reason to have the death penalty," Chairman Benjamin R. Civiletti said at a news conference. Regarding the commission's recommendation of repeal rather than reform, he said, "There are so many faults, so many flaws within the system that we could not imagine ... ways in which to cure it."

Ben Civiletti was the U.S. Attorney General under Jimmy Carter. I've had many conversations with him over the past decade as we serve on a board together, and while I admire him tremendously, I can assure you he's no "softie" on crime issues.

The chief findings in the report: [More...]

  • Racial disparities exist in Maryland’s capital sentencing system.
  • Jurisdictional disparities exist in Maryland’s capital sentencing system.
  • The costs associated with cases in which a death sentence is sought are substantially higher than the costs associated with cases in which a sentence of life without the possibility of parole is sought.
  • While both life without the possibility of parole and death penalty cases are extremely hard on families of victims, the Commission finds that the effects of capital cases are more detrimental to families than are life without the possibility of parole cases. The Commission recommends an increase of the services and resources already provided to families of victims as recommended by the Victims’ Subcommittee.
  • Despite the advance of forensic sciences, particularly DNA testing, the risk of execution of an innocent person is a real possibility.
  • While DNA testing has become a widely accepted method for determining guilt or innocence, it does not eliminate the risk of sentencing innocent persons to death since, in many cases, DNA evidence is not available and, even when it is available, is subject to contamination or error at the scene of the offense or in the laboratory.
  • The Commission finds that there is no persuasive evidence that the death penalty deters homicides in Maryland.
  • Ultimate Recommendation: The Commission recommends abolition of capital punishment in the state of Maryland.

The full report is here.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Barbarism aside (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Nowonmai on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 05:53:58 PM EST
    The biggest problem with the death penalty, is you can't un-execute an innocent man/woman.

    And yes, I do agree it is barbaric.

    Maryland is the kind of state (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 01:20:52 PM EST
    that would abolish the death penalty before many others.

    Maryland is a mixed bag (none / 0) (#7)
    by koshembos on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 08:30:53 AM EST
    Although, overwhelmingly Democratic Maryland is not as advanced in social legislation and regulation as for, instance, NY. Recently the absence of early voting is a symbol of how behind Maryland is. It supports only minimally new energy and offers laughable incentives to residents who want to invest for individual use in solar or wind energy.

    Maryland is a semi-Southern state with strong pro-labor tendency.


    It is a good thing (none / 0) (#2)
    by JamesTX on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 03:32:05 PM EST
    that people are beginning to question this. The fact that we are seeing people sentenced to death exonerated in droves raises the question about how many life-without-parole cases are equally innocent. I think the plan is to get the electorate to accept abolition of the death penalty as a reform, and then forget about the rest! I love this country.

    Tell that to the multiple defendants (none / 0) (#5)
    by scribe on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 05:52:25 PM EST
    freed from Illinois death row - I don't remember the exact number but IIRC it was in the dozens.  Something on the order of a quarter of all convicts on Illinois' death row were exonerated - innocent.

    Numbers like that qualify as "droves" to me.


    Capital punishment has always (none / 0) (#6)
    by pluege on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 11:23:50 PM EST
    been more about the executioner than it has been about the executed.