In 2013, the state of Maryland repealed the death penalty for all crimes. This act, however, was not retroactive and did not affect any previous sentences. This left many people in Maryland who were on death row still waiting for their gruesome sentences to be carried out.
Fortunately, for the sake of humanity and for the lives of the possible innocents sitting on death row, all those sentences have been downgraded. Governor Martin O’Malley could not run again due to term limits and will be replaced by Republican Larry Hogan, who promised during his campaign that he would vote against any such measures to stop death penalties. Additionally, Hogan stated he would have vetoed the repeal of the death penalty. In light of this O’Malley made a bold decisive move with his commutation on all previous death sentences.
In less than 30 days Hogan will take office but has stated he will not do anything to overturn this decision nor will he fight the already instituted repeal of the death penalty.
For anyone who values life this is a moment to remember. It’s not necessarily a celebratory moment, as this is a place humanity should have reached a long time ago, but it is certainly one more step in correcting a long line of systemic injustices.
Since 1973 over 150 inmates on death row have been exonerated and set free. This number, sadly, includes the number of people found to be innocent after their execution. A late exoneration may bring peace to the families of the convicted but it does little to alter the fact they were summarily executed despite their innocence. Even in the cases where the death sentence was not handed out, there have been over 1500 sentences overturned since 1989 according to The National Registry of Exonerations.
Support for the death penalty remains at around 60%, which is coincidentally near the same number of people who support torture via anal raping of prisoners. Despite the majority of Americans standing on the wrong side of history, the nation has continued to move forward towards a more humane way to deal with the social injustices involved in killing its own citizens via sane and sensible legislation.
This governor did the right thing — hopefully this will inspire other states to look at Maryland as a good example to follow.
H/T: Think Progress | Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons