- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 15, 2013

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Martin O'Malley will throw his support behind legislation to repeal the death penalty in Maryland this year, he announced at an event Tuesday while flanked by civil rights activists and legislators.

The governor said he plans to file legislation this week in the Maryland General Assembly and that he believes he has the support to repeal capital punishment after two earlier unsuccessful attempts.

“I believe, especially in tough times, if there is something that we are doing in our government that is expensive and does not work, then we should stop doing it,” Mr. O'Malley said. “The death penalty is expensive and it does not work and for that reason alone, I believe we should stop doing it.”

Activists, including those from the National Associate for the Advancement of Colored People and anti-death penalty groups, joined the governor for the announcement, and some legislators pledged their support for the bill once it is introduced.

“It it gets there, we will pass it,” said Delegate Aisha Braveboy, Prince George’s Democrat, of the bill’s introduction to the floor of the House of Delegates.

Though death penalty repeal has the governor’s support, the legislation will still face detractors.

“I think you need the ultimate penalty out there,” said Sen. James Brochin, Baltimore County Democrat, who said he would vote against such legislation.

Speaking after the governor’s press conference, Mr. Brochin said “misplaced priorities” are behind the notion of repealing the death penalty.

“They talk about these five people who are on death row, who have done the worst of the worst. And what about the victims’ families?” said Mr. Brochin, a member of the Judicial Proceedings Committee which would likely consider the bill. “I haven’t seen any effort in my 11 years down here to even address any of their concerns.”

Survey results released Monday by pollster OpinionWorks show that a plurality of respondents statewide support capital punishment, 48 percent to 42 percent who oppose. Respondents in Montgomery County favored repeal by 49 percent to 41 percent, Prince George’s County respondents narrowly opposed repeal, by a margin of 42 percent to 41 percent. Baltimore voters opposed repealing the death penalty, 52 percent to 36 percent.

More conservative areas of the state, like Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, also opposed repealing the death penalty by significant margins.

The poll of 800 voters was conducted Dec. 28 and Jan. 2 and had a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

Opposition to Maryland’s death penalty has increased since 2002, when then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat, ordered a moratorium to allow for study into the system’s possible racial bias.

Then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, lifted the ban in 2004 and allowed two executions, but the state Court of Appeals imposed a new moratorium in 2006 after ruling the state’s regulations on lethal injections were outdated.

A state-appointed committee then recommended in 2008 that Maryland abolish the death penalty because of evidence of racial and socioeconomic disparities, high legal costs, and emotional stress on victims’ families caused by lengthy appeals processes.

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