Capital punishment may soon have an expiration date north of the District of Columbia's border.
Several returning citizens in the District support the idea that the death penalty is discriminatory and often times is used disproportionately against the poor, minorities and members of racial, ethnic and religious communities. Capital punishment support has dwindled over the years, as increasing numbers of Americans factor in ethics and high costs of executions. Many have also looked at how national numbers doesn't show the threat of the death penalty has reduced the level of crime.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley announced last month he wanted to make Maryland the latest state to do away with capital punishment.
"The death penalty does not work in terms of preventing violent crime and the taking of human life," O'Malley said during a news conference in the state's capital, Annapolis.
According to Amnesty International (AI), only 18 of the 142 death row exonorees over the last 40 years have been set free due to DNA evidence.
Amnesty quickly threw their support around O'Malley's announcement. In a press release the organization stated:
"Gov. O'Malley has taken a courageous stand in putting the full weight of his office toward repeal of the death penalty in Maryland. More than two-thirds of the world's countries -- 140 of them -- have rejected capital punishment as the ultimate abuse of human rights. "
The Maryland Senate vote is predicted to be close (the Senate only needs 24 of it's 47 members to vote for the bill in order for it to move to the state House of Delegates, where it's expected to have a much smoother ride).
In the State of Maryland a prosecutor must present biological or DNA evidence, and videotaped confessions or videotaped crimes, in order to get a death sentence granted.
On Thursday, the MSNBC show, Jansing & Co. did a segment on Maryland's consideration of abolishing the death penalty. During the segment Jansing spoke with returning citizen Kirk Noble Bloodsworth, Maryland and former Marine who became the first American who was sentenced to death row and was later exonerated by DNA fingerprinting.
Bloodsworth once faced execution for a murder in Maryland, but he proclaimed his innocence. Through DNA testing he was freed after nine years, and the real culprit was caught.
"I think we're very successful because people are finally finding out that the death penalty doesn't work, and whether it's in Maryland or any of these other places have abandoned the practice," Bloodsworth said onn the program. "The one good thing about Maryland is we have an appropriation within the bill where the savings from the death penalty would go to the victim's crime fund.
"We've also found that as I was on the commission that Governor Martin O'Malley appointed me to, a study commission on capital punishment, we voted 13 to 9 to abolish it."
Bloodsworth was referring to a 2008 study by a Maryland commission that found the cost of pursuing a capital case is three times the cost of pursuing a murder conviction with a sentence of life without parole.
Supporters of the death penalty feel O'Malley and his advocates are going down a slippery slope. Republican Maryland Delegate Neil Parrott commented, "This governor's priorities are all messed up. By watering down punishments for violent crime, he's encouraging crime to happen in Maryland rather than in Virginia or other states."
Statistically, modern polls show a majority of America have focused their attentions to alternatives to the death penalty for the crime of murder.
Currently, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York have abolished capital punishment since 2007.
Bloodsworth's execution date had already been commuted to two consecutive life sentences by the DNA testing had begun. He knows works as advocacy director for Witness to Innocence.
Amnesty International lists a series of reasons on why they believe the death penalty should be abolished.