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The biggest year yet for Maryland?

Maryland lawmakers are practically clamoring to show their support for a new bill that would end Maryland’s death penalty. At a press conference yesterday it was unveiled that the bill has received a record number of co-sponsors: 21 Senate co-sponsors (24 are needed for passage) and 61 House co-sponsors (71 are needed for passage).

Maryland has a long history of ambivalence towards capital punishment. In 2003 it became the second state ever to impose a moratorium on executions. In 2007 and 2009, bills to end the death penalty gathered tremendous momentum and gained support from members of law enforcement, murder victims’ family members, and Governor Martin O’Malley himself. In 2008 a statewide commission called for repeal of the death penalty after six months of study.

In 2009, legislature actually passed a reform that made Maryland’s death penalty the narrowest in the nation. This helped reduce the risk of executing an innocent person, but it did not eliminate the risk, nor did it address any of the many other flaws with the system.

And the new procedures have made the trial process far more complicated. Juries now have to deliberate in three separate phases instead of two, driving up costs while dragging victims’ families through an agonizingly extended trial process.

Maryland has learned the critical lesson that the more you try to fix the system, the worse it gets. They have come close before, and every year brings justice a step closer.

If you live in Maryland, now is a great time to get involved. Contact your representatives today and tell them that ending the death penalty is the only real solution.

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