ACLU Applauds Maryland Governor for Testifying in Support of Repealing the State’s Death Penalty

Affiliate: ACLU of Maryland
February 21, 2007 12:00 am

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BALTIMORE, MD – The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland today hailed the remarkable appearance of Governor Martin O’Malley, who personally testified in support of repealing the state’s death penalty. The ACLU of Maryland is seconding the call for capital punishment to finally be abandoned as a fundamentally flawed and failed policy.

“The ACLU applauds Governor O’Malley for speaking from the heart today when he asked legislative leaders to end the death penalty in Maryland,” said Meredith Curtis, spokeswoman for the ACLU of Maryland. “The Governor recognizes that capital punishment is not the most effective tool for preventing homicides, and he understands that the policy is in conflict with basic standards of human dignity.”

The ACLU today also testified in support of legislation to repeal the death penalty, before both the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and the House Judiciary Committee In his testimony, O’Malley clearly indicated his willingness to sign a repeal bill if it passes. The ACLU of Maryland is encouraging members of the General Assembly to move forward and finally put the legislation on O’Malley’s desk.

Currently, there is an effective moratorium on the death penalty in the state, following a Maryland Court of Appeals ruling in December 2006 that the Department of Corrections protocol for administering executions is not in compliance with the state’s Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The court also ruled that the protocol cannot be enforced until it is brought in compliance with the APA, or until the general assembly exempts the protocol from the requirement of the APA.

The ACLU of Maryland believes that the corrections department has avoided the public process mandated under state law in deciding how to put inmates to death. The ACLU today expressed hope that the court’s ruling, coupled with O’Malley’s call for repeal, will help Maryland residents understand that the best way of addressing the problems with the death penalty is to abolish it altogether.

In January 2006, the ACLU of Maryland joined with the NAACP, Maryland Citizens Against State Executions, and Vernon Evans in challenging the validity of the regulations set forth in the DOCs Execution Operations Manual. The coalition contends, among other things, that the regulations were promulgated in violation of administrative procedures law because the Department of Corrections did not comply with the notice and comment requirement.

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