As John blogged last month, the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment has called on the state to abolish the death penalty. The ACLU of Maryland opined on this back in January, and another powerful voice added to the debate today: Michael May, a former police officer with the Baltimore Police Department, wrote in the Baltimore Examiner today about his evolution from a death penalty proponent to an abolitionist. The thought of executing an innocent person is part of what turned it around for him. May writes:
Like many people, I have struggled to make sense of this issue. The death penalty seems like a proportionate punishment for a grievous crime. At least it brings justice to victims in the face of evil. But does it? My religion teaches that the path to true peace is through forgiveness. John Paul II traveled to an Italian prison to forgive the man who shot him. The death penalty keeps us from following that noble example. It certainly does not bring back or even honor the dead. It also does not ennoble the living. It does nothing to assuage the sorrow of the victim’s loved ones. In fact, as I sat through the commission hearings waiting to testify, I heard from victims’ families who said the opposite — that the death penalty’s uncertainty only brought them more grief.
It’s clear from the sheer number of death row exonerees that the death penalty is flawed, and the likelihood of executing an innocent person remains very high. Let’s hope Maryland follows in New Jersey’s footsteps and abolishes the death penalty. We’ve discussed many times over how it makes financial sense for the states — May makes crystal-clear that it makes moral sense as well.