Saturday, January 10, 2015

188.3 - Good News: closing the books on the death penalty in Maryland

Good News: closing the books on the death penalty in Maryland

Almost two years ago, Martin O'Malley, the governor of MD, convinced the state legislature to put an end to the death penalty in the state.

However, the change was not retroactive. Four people who had already been convicted of murder remained on death row.

The good news here is that in one of his final acts as governor, O'Malley has commuted those death sentences to life without parole. O'Malley's successor, Larry Hogan, says it's unlikely that he'll ask the legislature to reinstate the death penalty. So with this action, Governor O'Malley has closed the books on the death penalty in Maryland.

Eighteen states and Washington DC have abolished the death penalty, six of those states in the last 7 years  - which of course also means that 32 states and the feds still have it on the books. But even in those places it's being used less and less:

Only 35 people were murdered at law in 2014, the fewest in 20 years. Only 72 were sentenced to death, the fewest in 40 years. And of those executed in 2014, just three states - Missouri, Texas, and Florida - accounted for 80 percent of them.

The death penalty is slowly, too slowly, but it is gradually disappearing from the US, so maybe at some point we can join the more than 100 other nations, including essentially the entire industrialized world and much of the rest of it, in tossing this symbol of savagery, this badge of barbarism, into the dustbin of history. That would be extra good news.

Sources cited in links:

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