Maryland Repeals Death Penalty
This month, Maryland became the sixth state in six years to repeal the death penalty. With that said, the total number of states that have abolished capital punishment is now eighteen (18). For years, Maryland’s Governor, Martin O’Malley has championed the repeal of death penalty in his state. After signing the bill into law, Governor O’Malley said that the risk of executing an innocent person weighed heavily in his dedication to ending capital punishment in Maryland. The success of the repeal effort in Maryland has given momentum to repeal efforts in Delaware where an abolition bill was passed by the state Senate this week. The next step in Delaware is for the legislation to go before the House. The Delaware Governor, Jack Markell, has refused to say whether he favors the legislation.
The US criminal justice system is based on guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s the foundation of our justice system, built to serve and protect the wrongly accused. But in the case of Troy Davis and countless others on death row, it’s a principle that was defied, ignored, and trampled on. As Troy Davis wrote in a letter when he was facing execution in 2008 :” … no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this Movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated. There are so many more Troy Davis’. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe.
With the recent decision to abolish the death penalty in Maryland, we have moved one step closer to dismantling our unjust criminal justice system city by city, state by state and country by country. Amnesty International and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have been seeking to do just that for decades. Specifically, these organizations have been quite successful in raising awareness about the problems with criminal justice system and the need to end the death penalty. The number of persons supporting their work is growing as demonstrated in the case of Troy Davis. Their petition seeking clemency in the Troy Davis case was signed by almost one million persons. NAACP and Amnesty International have experienced steady progress in this important undertaking to end the death penalty. However, the Troy Davis case reminds us that more work needs to be done to end the death penalty across our nation.
The collective work done on Troy Davis’ case resounded with people all over the world. Next stop for the abolition of the death penalty nationwide is California, a state poised to make history this fall by ending its death penalty through a referendum. The struggle continues. But with each victory, we, as a nation, come closer to a world where human rights are respected, and executions are a thing of the past.
For further information on how you can get involved in efforts to end the penalty nationwide, please visit the websites for Amnesty International and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Equal Justice USA, and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.
Sources: Delaware Senate approves repeal of death penalty, POLITICO, March 26, 2013, Associated Press. Amnesty International, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Innocence Project. The Campaign to End the Death Penalty.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art