One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State

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Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley speaks for death penalty repeal,  surrounded by supporters and the media.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley speaks to supporters and the media for death penalty repeal.

Montana and Maryland, what do they share
With big Colorado, and small Delaware?
Big Sky Montana’s a red state, it’s true,
While Maryland’s one of the bluest of blue.

There’s one thing they all share – now take a deep breath –
They all might abolish the punishment of death!
Yes, these red and these blue states, the large and the small
Might soon not conduct executions at all!

And you can take action if you live in these states,
Because human rights change can’t be left to the fates.
Just click on the links or pass on to a friend
And in these 4 states executions may end.

Colorado | Delaware | Maryland | Montana

Don’t live in these states?  Don’t worry, because
You can forward the actions to someone who does.

State Death Penalty Debates Begin

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As we move deeper into January, most state legislative sessions have begun.  The unifying feature in all these state legislatures is the grim economic and budget picture, but despite that, or perhaps because of that, several states will be debating the death penalty in very substantive ways.  This week, legislative committees in Kansas and Washington are considering abolition. 

The debate in Kansas is significant; their abolition bill, supported by Republican Senator Carolyn McGinn passed out of committee last year but was returned for further study.   In 2003, an official government study concluded that the death penalty in Kansas costs considerably more than the alternatives, and Kansas has not carried out a single execution since the death penalty was reinstated.

Neither has New Hampshire, and a Study Commission in the Granite State is spending this year evaluating the pros and cons of retaining a punishment that they are most likely never going to use (1 death sentence since 1959, no executions since 1939).  A bill to establish a similar study commission in Missouri has been filed, and there is likely to be serious consideration of that this year as well. 

Despite a focus in 2010 on budgets and elections, capital punishment will continue to make news in the halls of many state legislatures.  And, as in recent years (with some exceptions – Virginia, for example), the news will mostly be about efforts to restrict or eliminate the death penalty.