On Thursday, last week, Feb. 22, 2007, Governor Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) had on op-ed piece published in the Washington Post entitled “Why I Oppose the Death Penalty.” He also went before the Maryland legislature to testify in support of a bill repealing the death penalty in Maryland and replacing it with life without parole.
According to knowledgeable sources, it is very rare for a Maryland governor to testify in support of a bill that is not a part of the legislative package that he himself introduced. Governor O’Malley did not introduce the death penalty repeal bill; it was sponsored by Del. Samuel Rosenburg and Sen. Lisa Gladden.
On Friday, Feb. 23, 2007, the Montana Senate debated a repeal of the death penalty bill, and it passed, 272-21. Leading the coalition in support of its passage was the ACLU of Montana and its Executive Director, Scott Crichton, with support from a coalition of religious and secular groups and individuals.
These two events are only the latest in a string of victories since the beginning of 2007. Since January 1, the New Jersey Study Commission has recommended repeal of the death penalty in that state, the New Mexico House has passed a repeal bill, and legislative committees in Nebraska and Colorado have passed repeal legislation. There is also a serious repeal effort underway in Connecticut. By our count, seven states–Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey and New Mexico all have serious repeal bills advancing with the possibility of victory in each state. The ACLU is directly involved in each of those states, and we need members to take action by calling their state legislators in those states.