It's time to kill the death penalty, Gov. Martin O'Malley and the national president of the NAACP said Tuesday.
"The death penalty does not work in terms of preventing violent crime," O'Malley said pointing to the high rate of violent crime in states where the death penalty is more commonly used.
"Conversely, over these last several years, we have been doing the things that work," he said pointing to a radical drop in violent crimes in recent years, even though Maryland has a moratorium on executions.
O'Malley noted the United States ranks fifth in the world in the use of capital punishment, behind Iran, North Korea, Communist China and Yemen.
NAACP president Benjamin Jealous said the death penalty tarnishes the image of the United States as a beacon to the rest of the world.
O'Malley said capital cases cost three times as much to try as other homicide cases, and described the process as "wasting taxpayer dollars."
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert and a supporter of capital punishment, said earlier in the day the O'Malley-backed legislation will pass in committee, and may pass the full Senate.
Sources in the General Assembly predict if the legislature kills the death penalty, supporters of capital punishment will take the matter to referendum and put it on the ballot in November 2014.
"Referendum? I think that is as close to a certainty as you can get," said Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chairman Sen. Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery and an opponent of capital punishment.
A senator from Anne Arundel County may end up providing the crucial floor vote for passage of O'Malley's legislation.
When the General Assembly last considered similar legislation, in 2009, pro-death penalty Republican Sen. Janet Greenip represented the Crofton area. Now, Sen. Ed Reilly, also a Republican, holds that seat. Reilly has said he plans to vote for the ban because he believes life begins at conception and ends with natural death, and executions are immoral.
The Anne Arundel County Delegation does not have a member in the House or Senate committees that will hear the bill, but a new assignment in the House of Delegate all but ensures the bill will get a favorable vote in committee. On Friday, Del. Sandy Rosenberg, D-Baltimore City and a strong supporter of ending capital punishment, was moved to the Judiciary Committee. He had been vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
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