Maryland group wants voters to decide whether to repeal of death penalty

Local,Maryland,Andy Brownfield

BALTIMORE - The Maryland group that led the effort to overturn three controversial measures on last year's ballot is setting its sights on the repeal of Maryland's death penalty, announcing on Friday it is seeking to give voters in 2014 the final say on whether the state keeps its ultimate punishment.

Del. Neil Parrott, R-Washington County, head of, said his group is putting all of its energy into gathering signatures to get onto the 2014 ballot a referendum on the death penalty repeal. Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the repeal into law on Thursday.

Parrott said the death penalty is necessary to deter or punish criminals who committ the most heinous crimes, such as the two men who set off bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring hundreds.

"The question we have here today is, what if? What if it was the Baltimore Marathon?" Parrott said, standing in front of Lot A of Camden Yards, the start and finish point for the Baltimore Marathon. "With the repeal of the death penalty, we would not have an adequate answer for 'what if?'"

The deadline to file the first 18,579 of the required 55,736 signatures is May 31.

Proponents of the repeal say they're ready to fight the referendum effort.

"Make no mistake, if this goes to referendum the NAACP and countless allies throughout Maryland will be there to fight," said Benjamin Jealous, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

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