ACLU Challenges Maryland’s Death Penalty

January 20, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
CONTACT: media@aclu.org     

Seeks to Block Executions Until State Complies with the Law

BALTIMORE – The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland today called for an immediate halt to executions in the state. The lawsuit, filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court, says the regulations that govern the state’s administration of the death penalty violate the law.

“The Division of Corrections ignored the mandated public process when developing its lethal injection procedures -- which resulted in protocols that do not comply with the law,” said Deborah A. Jeon, Legal Director for the ACLU of Maryland. “There is no free pass that exempts the DOC from compliance, especially when the protocol in question spells out how individuals are put to death.”

The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services’ Division of Corrections has been solely responsible for adopting regulations that set forth the proper procedures for carrying out death sentences.  The ACLU contends that several of the DOC’s regulations conflict with the Death Penalty statute. Most significantly, they use an additional drug in the lethal injection “cocktail” that was not approved by the legislature. Additionally, the DOC did not comply with the notice and comment requirement of the state’s Administrative Procedure Act.  The ACLU lawsuit also says that the DOC failed to provide adequate training for the personnel charged with carrying out executions. 

“If not administered properly, death by lethal injection is extraordinarily painful and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment,” said Meredith Curtis, Public Outreach Director of the ACLU of Maryland. “As more and more incidents of faulty executions are reported across the country, it is especially important that Maryland stop putting inmates to death until the protocol gets the thorough and public discussion it deserves.”

The ACLU of Maryland joined the Baltimore City Branch of the NAACP and Maryland Citizens Against State Executions in challenging the validity of the regulations set forth in the DOC’s Execution Operations Manual. The serious issues raised by today’s legal filing are especially pressing because the state is scheduled to execute Vernon Evans the week of February 6, 2006.

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