Passage of Maryland’s death penalty repeal bill in 2013 would be historic, and not only because it would ban capital punishment in that state. Though of course ending executions in Maryland would be great, the 2013 repeal bill would be more historic because of what it does for the families of victims.
Since capital punishment costs more in Maryland than the alternatives (as it does in California, or any other state where the question has been studied), savings are to be had, and Maryland’s death penalty repeal bill appropriates some of those savings to support the real needs of victims’ families. Many families who lose a loved one (often times a breadwinner) to murder simply can’t afford the bare necessities like counseling, travel to court dates and hearings, or even funeral costs.
Redirecting funds wasted on capital punishment to provide for these basic needs respects both the rights the prisoner (who will not be subjected to the ultimate cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment) and the rights of the victim (whose loved ones will be supported in ways that truly matter). Here’s hoping Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley will lead his state to passing this groundbreaking legislation, invigorating the USA’s march to abolition, while setting a new standard for how criminal justice can be more humane and do more for victims’ families.