Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley Commutes State's Last 4 Death Row Sentences to Life In Prison

Maryland officially repealed the death penalty in May 2013, becoming one of the last states in the northeast to do so. But there was a caveat to the repeal – it did not apply to the men sitting on death row at the time. Those executions were slated to go forward.

On Wednesday, New Year's Eve, Governor Martin O'Malley moved to fix that. He commuted the death sentences of the four remaining death row prisoners, turning them into life sentences. In his statement announcing the move, O'Malley noted this would be the best way to serve both justice and the survivors of both the victims and the perpetrators of the crimes. Some excerpts from his speech:

“In my judgment, leaving these death sentences in place does not serve the public good of the people of Maryland — present or future.

"Gubernatorial inaction — at this point in the legal process — would, in my judgment, needlessly and callously subject survivors, and the people of Maryland, to the ordeal of an endless appeals process, with unpredictable twists and turns, and without any hope of finality or closure.

"In the final analysis, there is one truth that stands between and before all of us.  That truth is this    — few of us would ever wish for our children or grandchildren to kill another human being or to take part in the killing of another human being. The legislature has expressed this truth by abolishing the death penalty in Maryland.

“For these reasons, I intend to commute Maryland’s four remaining death sentences to life without the possibility of parole.

"It is my hope that these commutations might bring about a greater degree of closure for all of the survivors and their families.”

O'Malley is rumored to be a possible 2016 presidential contender, and his stand opposing the death penalty puts him squarely at odds with Hillary Clinton, who favors it.


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