March 24, 2012
In today's Sun the column by Dan Rodricks was right on the mark regarding Maryland's outdated adherence to state executions ("Floggings, no - lethal injection, yes?" March 22). He quotes a book by University of Baltimore law professor John D. Bessler indicating that some of our Founding Fathers, such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, opposed executions. They were apparently more humane 200 years ago than we are now. How we have progressed since then, still intent on killing people!
March 21, 2012
John D. Bessler, an expert on capital punishment who teaches at the University of Baltimore School of Law, argues in his most recent book on the death penalty (he's written four) that, since its founding, the United States has become a more civilized place. We outlawed duels a long time ago. We no longer whip or torture inmates. We no longer place offenders in stocks. We stopped public hangings. As Mr. Bessler points out in his excellent history, "Cruel and Unusual: The American Death Penalty and the Founders' Eighth Amendment," we've made all kinds of progress since the time of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the adoption of the Bill of Rights.
January 5, 2012
When they were handing out the whole "nine lives" package, one Salt Lake City cat apparently got seconds. Maybe thirds. According to a jaw-dropping tale in the Salt Lake Tribune , a stray cat named Andrea has one Utah city rethinking its euthanasia policy after the cat survived not one, but two rounds in a gas chamber. Last year the black cat was put on death row after no one adopted her at the shelter. According to the story, Andrea was "plopped" into the gas chamber to be euthanized but when she showed signs of life after the process, they gassed her again.
January 30, 2011
An unexpected confluence of events this year has given Gov. Martin O'Malley a chance to advance a much-needed reform that he has long championed. Because of changes in the composition of the state Senate after last year's elections, the General Assembly may be more receptive than it has been in years past to ending executions in Maryland, not just limiting their application. Moreover, the only American manufacturer of a key chemical used in lethal injections announced last week that it would no longer produce the drug, a move that will likely put a de facto halt to executions across the U.S., at least temporarily.
September 24, 2010
Teresa Lewis, who plotted with a young lover to kill her husband and stepson for insurance money, became the first woman executed in Virginia in nearly 100 years Thursday night when she was killed by lethal injection. Lewis, 41, was a mother who became a grandmother behind bars. Just before she was executed, Lewis asked whether her husband's daughter was in the death chamber. "I want you to know I love you, and I'm sorry for what I did," she said just before her death. She was pronounced dead at 9:13 p.m. Lewis's case generated passion and interest across the world.
October 13, 2009
The fundamental question to be asked about the "serious flaws" that a legislative panel reviewing Maryland's death penalty protocols has found in how the state executes condemned inmates is this: Are there substantive ethical and legal problems with the procedure that require further study before executions can proceed, as panel members insist? Or is the finding merely an excuse to extend the de facto moratorium on executions that has existed since 2006, as death penalty supporters argue?