Fighting for abolition in Maryland
ANNAPOLIS, Md.--Legislation to repeal Maryland's racist death penalty was defeated once again in the state's Senate Judiciary Committee this year, but an alternative bill has given abolitionists cause for optimism and continued struggle.
The bill, seen by some legislators as a way to break the perennial repeal stalemate, establishes a commission to study Maryland's system of capital punishment and mandates public hearings on the death penalty.
Among the topics the commission will address are racial and socio-economic disparities in sentencing, the risk of innocent people being executed, and a comparison of death penalty cases with cases ending in life without parole.
The commission will be composed of various legislators, judicial officials, police and clergy, as well as someone who was imprisoned and later exonerated, and family members of murder victims. There are also three positions for the public at large.
It will be an imperative challenge for the abolitionist community to get these positions filled by people who will represent the interests of the those most affected by the death penalty, particularly the family members of death row inmates. The commission will provide an opening for activists to expose the cruelty and unfairness of capital punishment.