Death penalty debate looms: Proponents, opponents of repeal converge on Annapolis PDF Print E-mail

PFADP is in Maryland to provide witness and call for death penalty repeal in the state. We will continue to keep you updated on events as they unfold.

February 14, 2013

By Timothy B. Wheeler
The Baltimore Sun

Opponents and supporters of the death penalty are expected to converge on Annapolis today to air their views on the emotional issue, as lawmakers appear closer than ever to abolishing capital punishment in Maryland.

Gov. Martin O'Malley is scheduled to testify before both House and Senate committees hearing bills he is co-sponsoring that would end the death penalty. Among those set to join him in calling for repeal are Catholic Archbishop William E. Lori, NAACP President Benjamin T. Jealous and other religious and civil rights leaders.

Lining up to oppose repeal are prosecutors, including Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger, police officials and relatives of murder victims.

A poll done recently for The Baltimore Sun indicates that Maryland voters support retention of the death penalty, by a margin of 48 percent to 42 percent. That margin is closer than in surveys done in years past, though, and O'Malley has said he believes "the will is there" in the General Assembly to end capital punishment this year.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, though a supporter of the death penalty, has said he believes there are enough votes in his chamber this year to approve repeal. If it does pass both houses, Miller has predicted it would be petitioned to referendum.

If Maryland does abolish the death penalty, it would be the sixth state to do so in recent years, according to advocates.

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