As the 2011 Session gets underway, Maryland lawmakers are revisiting the controversial discussion of the State’s use of the death penalty. Currently Maryland ranks amongst the nation’s 35 states that have the death penalty; however an execution has not occurred in the State for five years. Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. is encouraging that action be taken during the 90-day Session to resume executions in Maryland. The Washington Post reports:
“To allow this to continue to sit in the drawer is to make a mockery of the democratic and legislative process,” Miller, a capital punishment supporter, said in an interview last week. “We swear to uphold the law of the state, and the death penalty is the law.”
O’Malley said he, too, thinks the legislative panel “should do something one way or another on this” and acknowledged it is possible that executions could resume during his second four-year term, which starts Wednesday.
The governor, however, said he thinks the death penalty will eventually be repealed and is still assessing whether it makes sense to take another run at doing that in the current 90-day legislative session.
“The line of history sometimes zigs and zags,” O’Malley said in an interview. “I think the big picture is our country is moving away from the death penalty, and I think as time goes on, more and more states will realize that it’s not an effective tool for reducing violent crime or homicides. It’s not a deterrent, it’s very, very expensive, and the dollars could be used for other things, and it’s ultimately inconsistent with the sort of nation with aspire to be.”
Unlike most high-profile matters that come before the legislature, the death penalty regulations are being considered by a single committee made up of 10 delegates and 10 senators.
Any action by the panel does not need approval of the House or Senate, and technically the panel’s role is only advisory. If he wanted to, O’Malley could put the recommendations in place over the panel’s objections.
For more information on Maryland’s death penalty debate, click here.