A passionate group of advocates — including
"For this state to continue to spend money killing the killers that are already going to spend the rest of their lives in cages ... quite frankly that is an extravagance that the state can no longer afford," Jealous said.
National advocates targeted Maryland this year in repeal efforts, believing the state's Democratic-dominated legislature had the votes needed to end the death penalty. Supporters believe they could pass a repeal measure in the full House and Senate, but acknowledge that they are a vote short to move it out of a key Senate committee.
Underlining that point, Sen.
O'Malley tried — and failed — to repeal the state's death penalty in 2009. Instead the Assembly severely restricted the circumstances under which capital punishment could be sought, in an attempt to reduce errors. Now it is only allowed in cases where there is
That compromise was brokered by Sen. Bobby A. Zirkin, a
One who disagreed was Kirk Bloodsworth, who was convicted in 1985 of raping and killing a 9-year-old girl. After fighting the conviction for nine years — including two on death row — he was exonerated after DNA evidence pointed to someone else as the killer.
"My life was changed forever because of a crime I didn't commit," said Bloodsworth, 51, of Cambridge, who wore a tie with a double-helix — the structure of DNA — for his appearance before the committee. "Even human beings with the best intentions are still subject to errors."
During the roughly one-hour hearing before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, only Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger testified in support of the status quo.