The Abolitionist of the Year Award

12 January 2017 :

To Martin O’Malley
Governor of Maryland
On 2 May 2013, Maryland became the 18th U.S. State and the sixth State in six years to abolish capital punishment when Governor Martin O’Malley signed legislation outlawing capital punishment at a crowded ceremony of immense symbolic significance. Attending was one-time Maryland death row inmate Kirk Bloodsworth, who was the first person in the U.S. freed because of DNA evidence after being convicted in a death penalty case.
“There are practical reasons why momentum is steadily shifting toward repeal,” O’Malley said. “The death penalty is expensive, it does not work, and it is administered with a clear racial bias. Repealing it is a matter of justice, a matter of public safety, and a matter of effective governance.”
O’Malley, a former Baltimore Mayor and Prosecutor, has lobbied lawmakers for seven years to pass legislation to end capital punishment. In 2008, he instituted a study on the death penalty and in 2009 he asked State Congress to pass abolitionist legislation. After this attempt at new legislation, O’Malley slowed the review of lethal injection protocols subsequent to changes in the drugs utilized in the procedure. The new protocol was never approved, O’Malley having successfully impeded further executions in Maryland.
The new abolitionist legislation was approved by the State Senate on 6 March and by the State House of Representatives on 15 March. While the law is not automatically retroactive, O’Malley announced that he would examine the cases of five inmates on death row with an eye towards clemency.
The abolition of capital punishment was the first of a series of measures to get the Governor’s signature during a ceremony that included other socially liberal measures passed during the legislative session. O’Malley also signed bills to strengthen gun control, legalize medical marijuana, allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses and in-state tuition discounts at the State’s colleges and universities.