Governments Should Not Kill Their Own Citizens
Growing Momentum Against Death Penalty
The momentum continues to build against government-sponsored killings. Here is a recent announcement circulated by the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
MARYLAND ATTORNEY GENERAL CALLS FOR ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTYMaryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. called for the abolition of the death penalty, saying "capital punishment comes only at the intolerable risk of killing an innocent person."
Maryland is scheduled to execute Steven H. Oken the week of March 17. However, momentum is building in the Maryland General Assembly to pass a bill that would extend the moratorium that was put in place last year by former Gov. Parris Glendening. The bill is sponsored by Del. Selima Marriott of Baltimore City.
"While Maryland legislators and Gov. Robert Ehrlich prepare to cut essential state services and raise college tuition, the state of Maryland is squandering millions of dollars on a death penalty law that has been found to discriminate on the basis of geography as well as the race of the victim," said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. "Attorney General Curran recognizes that the death penalty is error-prone, immoral, biased and a fundamental violation of human rights. Today he reminds us that politics, at its best, is about principled leadership."
8 of the 12 people on Maryland's death row are black, and every single person on death row was convicted of killing a white victim - despite the fact that 80 % of homicides in Maryland involve black or Latino victims. A study recently released by the University of Maryland found that Maryland's death penalty discriminates not only on the basis of the victim's race, but also on geography - most death penalty convictions occur in largely white, suburban Baltimore County.
"Capital punishment comes only at the intolerable risk of killing an innocent person," Curran said in a statement today. "This is unworthy of us. Therefore, today I call for the abolition of the death penalty."
Curran's announcement comes in the wake of outgoing Illinois Gov. George Ryan's decision to commute the death sentences of 167 people, effectively emptying death row in that state.
Also see Fred Foldvary's editorial on Capital Punishment
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