Blog of Rights

Public Opinion Shifting Against Capital Punishment

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 5:38pm

As we blogged recently, the American public is changing its mind about the death penalty. The biggest news is coming out of Maryland, where Gov. Martin O'Malley is pushing for a bill repealing capital punishment to be expedited through the state legislature. According to some accounts, the house has the votes to make it happen, but the senate is where it might stall — as it has in years past. Still, abolitionists are optimistic that the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment's report, which recommends that the state repeal the death penalty, will provide state senators with the political cover they need to finally push the bill through.

Yesterday, former Montana state court administrator Jim Oppedahl wrote an op-ed in the Helena Indpendent Record about the numbers behind that state's death penalty process: Twenty people have been sentenced to death since capital punishment was reinstated in 1974. Of that 20, three have been executed, two remain on death row, and the sentences of the remaining 15 have been overturned "after many, many years of reversals and retrials" — and its millions in associated legal costs. Oppedahl concludes: "When I think back to my work as a court administrator, charged with making the courts run on far too few resources, I find these numbers both staggering and offensive."

Colorado's Daily Camera had more details yesterday about the bill we mentioned before that would repeal capital punishment in that state. It's estimated that abolishing the death penalty would save state and local authorities approximately $4.5 million per year — money the bill would direct towards solving cold cases.

h/t: Standdown

Statistics image