Md. attorney general to call for end to executions

Curran to outline stance at news conference today

January 30, 2003|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. will call for an end to the death penalty in Maryland today, noting systemic flaws and the possibility that innocent people could be put to death.

Curran has scheduled an 11:45 a.m. news conference in Annapolis to outline his opposition to executions, although neither he nor his aides would confirm the exact nature of his remarks.

"I'm going to do something down in Annapolis [on Thursday]. ... I'm going to talk about several issues," said Curran, reached at his home last night. "I prefer not to comment on it."

Curran has been a consistent opponent of the death penalty and has argued that it does not deter crime.

In the past, he has said that the state would be "taking a life" when it carries out executions.

Maryland's death penalty has been a topic of debate in recent weeks, with the release of a University of Maryland study showing that race and jurisdiction play significant roles in whether a criminal is sentenced to death.

Black defendants who kill white victims are statistically more likely to be charged with a capital offense, the study concluded.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has said that he will not continue a moratorium on the death penalty imposed by former Gov. Parris N. Glendening, but pledges to conduct a thorough case-by-case review of pleas for clemency that cross his desk.

Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, a death penalty opponent, is conducting interviews with lawyers and others involved in capital cases before recommending to Ehrlich whether more study regarding racial disparities is needed.

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