Martin O'Malley to introduce Maryland death penalty repeal bill

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Local,Maryland,Andy Brownfield

ANNAPOLIS -- Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is giving a repeal of his state's death penalty another shot, announcing on Tuesday that he will file a bill to do away with the ultimate punishment.

"The death penalty is expensive and it does not work," O'Malley said during a news conference. "And for that reason alone, I believe we should stop doing it."

The governor said the state should instead focus on measures that have proven to reduce crime rates, such as deploying police forces strategically, collection and use of DNA evidence, and using modern policing technology.

He also tied the abolition of capital punishment to a moral imperative, pointing out that the U.S. was among the seven countries that oversaw the most state executions: Iran, China, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the United States.

"In whose company do we choose to walk forward?" he asked. "Will we be a society guided by the notion that two wrongs somehow make a right? Or will we be a society that's guided by the fundamental civil and human rights that we understand are bestowed on humankind by God?"

O'Malley was flanked by members of the legislative black caucus, county executives and NAACP officials.

The NAACP has made it a priority to scrap capital punishment in Maryland this year, with the ultimate goal of abolishing it nationwide.

Opponents of repealing the death penalty argue that it should be kept for the most serious crimes. Del. Pat McDonough, R-Baltimore and Hartford counties, said last week that he would introduce five bills to require the death penalty in the cases of mass murder, murder of a law enforcement or corrections officer, contract murder or serial murder.

O'Malley has long attempted to abolish the state's death penalty, though bills to do so have languished in committee. Death penalty proponent Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George's and Calvert counties, has said he would allow a bill onto the floor for a vote if O'Malley has the votes to pass it.

O'Malley told reporters on Tuesday that he believed there was the will in the state Senate to pass the repeal.

abrownfield@washingtonexaminer.com

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