News Release ~ 03/15/2013

Maryland Legislature Votes to Repeal the Death Penalty

Washington, DC (March 15, 2013) – The state of Maryland today moved one step closer to abolishing the death penalty. The House of Delegates – by a margin of 82 to 56 – voted to repeal the death penalty in Maryland. Governor O’Malley, who has made the legislation one of his top priorities, is expected to sign the bill into law. The Maryland Senate passed the bill last week.

Last month NACDL submitted testimony to the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates in favor of the repeal. NACDL now applauds Maryland, which is set to become the 18th state to abolish the death penalty.

NACDL President Steven D. Benjamin said: “NACDL has been an outspoken critic of the death penalty system, which countless studies have shown to be arbitrary, discriminatory, and fraught with error. Because we believe that no amount of tinkering will save the death penalty from its inherent flaws, NACDL supports abolition. To witness yet another state legislature recognize these realities is extremely gratifying.”

Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in the United States, 141 individuals sentenced to death have been exonerated. Among them is Kirk Bloodsworth, a former marine and Maryland death row inmate who in 1993 became the first person in the nation whose death sentence was overturned as a result of DNA evidence, but tragically not before spending nearly a decade in prison.

Maryland joins a growing number of states that have repealed the death penalty in recent years. Connecticut abolished the death penalty in 2012 and Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York have also done so in recent years. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, some 17 states are this year considering legislation to repeal the death penalty.

A copy of the complete testimony submitted by NACDL President Steven D. Benjamin is available here. 

Contact: Ivan J. Dominguez, Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or idominguez@nacdl.org

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's approximately 10,000 direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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