Readers Speak Out On Repealing The Death Penalty In Maryland


November 20, 2008

The Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment's recommendation that Maryland abolish the death penalty was a foregone conclusion ("Repeal of death penalty urged," Nov. 13). The committee membership was weighted heavily in favor of those, like state Sen. Jamie Raskin, who vocally oppose capital punishment.

But Mr. Raskin's description of the death penalty as a "system infected with racial disparity and arbitrariness" is inaccurate. There is no "system," as every death penalty case has different facts and is decided in different counties with a different combination of state's attorneys, judges and juries.

Further, opponents once argued for the abolition of the death penalty on the basis that the racial disparity existed among those executed. But after Maryland executed John Frederick Thanos and Steven Howard Oken, they now focus heavily on the skin color of the victims to prove this alleged disparity. But, of course, the Baltimore state's attorney's office has had many opportunities to seek the death penalty in cases involving minority victims but has chosen not to do so.

Darren Margolis, Cockeysville

The governor is now prepared to sign legislation to abolish the death penalty. But while I am not sold on the idea that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime, I do believe it has its place.

There are cases so heinous that the death penalty should be an option. One such situation is the murder of a correctional officer. If we abolish the death penalty, what would we do as a society with a prisoner who is given a life sentence but murders a correctional officer while serving that sentence? Give him another life sentence and hope he doesn't do it again? I guess that's what we will do if Gov. Martin O'Malley has anything to say about it. If that happens, we can chalk up another win for the bad guys and their defense attorneys serving in the state legislature.

Jerry Charles, Westminster

"Repeal of death penalty urged" (Nov. 13) notes that Gov. Martin O'Malley, as a Catholic, is an ardent opponent of the death penalty.

What does Mr. O'Malley's Catholicism have to do with his opposition to executing a few lowlifes, when he is an ardent supporter of the right to abortion, which kills thousands of innocents?

This is just another example of Mr. O'Malley's hypocrisy.

Dan Beres, Perry Hall

The editorial "A needed debate" (Nov. 14) suggests debate is needed on the very important issue of repealing the death penalty. I agree.

Indeed, I'd like to see several public debates held with representation from both sides discussing the pros and cons of the death penalty.

These debates should be held periodically until the next election. The question of keeping or doing away with the death penalty should then be voted on by the citizens of Maryland.

Rick Schimpf, Pasadena

I thank the majority of the members of the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment for recommending repeal of the death penalty. It will be repealed eventually - and our state will finally catch up with the rest of the civilized world, which long ago recognized the hypocrisy of killing to show that killing is wrong.

Legitimate studies have shown racism and geography are factors in determining who receives the death penalty. For example, all five current inmates on Maryland's death row are accused of murdering white people. And throughout the country, the poor populate death row, as poverty is debilitating and destructive. Those who favor capital punishment claim it deters killing, but studies have long dismissed such a notion.

In 2009, let us repeal the law that allows the state to take someone's life. Then those now speaking out against the death penalty can devote our efforts to alleviating poverty.

Max Obuszewski, Baltimore

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