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Historic passage of death penalty repeal in Maryland

We’re number 18!

Last Friday, Maryland's House of Delegates voted 82-56 to pass historic legislation to repeal the death penalty in Maryland. The bill has already passed the Maryland Senate 27-20. With the expected signature of Governor Martin O’Malley, Maryland is set to become the 18th state to end capital punishment, offering a strong model and momentum for other states working towards repeal.

As a Moving Maryland Forward Network leader, I want to take a moment to thank you – the MMFN activists who spoke out about why ending capital punishment in Maryland was the right thing to do.

Ending capital punishment will now allow the state to eliminate racial and jurisdictional bias, reduce unnecessary costs, and eliminate the intolerable risk of convicting and executing an innocent person.

That’s why, for decades, the ACLU of Maryland has sought to end the use of the death penalty through lobbying every year in the General Assembly. In 1994, we also mounted an unsuccessful legal challenge to stave off the first execution of Marylander, John Thanos, after the Supreme Court's reinstatement of the death penalty in 1977. There have been gains and setbacks, but we never stopped fighting against this heinous punishment.

We knew that with the dedication and hard work of inspiring coalition partners, the strong support of the Governor and a growing number of elected leaders, and evolving public sentiment, this historic day would come.

Currently, four nations carry out 90 percent of the world’s executions: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Now, as Maryland prepares to add its name to an influential list of the eighteen states that have abandoned this barbaric, antiquated, and irreversible practice, we are heartened that our state has taken the country one more big step forward down the road toward abolition.

Meredith Curtis is the Communications Director at ACLU of Maryland.

Meredith Curtis