The Daily Gamecock

Repeal of death penalty isn't enough

Maryland must extend benefits to current inmates too

Just before we left for summer, the Maryland General Assembly voted to abolish the death penalty, becoming the 18th state to do so. While this legislation was a major step in the right direction, it doesn’t guarantee that Maryland’s days of executing prisoners are over.

That is because the repeal law only applies to defendants who are tried after the legislation takes effect and does not address those inmates who have already been sentenced to death and are currently living on death row.

The decision on whether to execute current death row inmates or commute their sentences to life in prison has been left up to the governor in that state, Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Gov. O’Malley should think about his arguments in favor of the repeal when considering how to address Maryland’s current death row population.

Among those arguments were its costly nature, the potential to execute innocent people and its ineffectiveness at reducing crime.

However, the governor should recognize these very arguments are not just relevant to future cases, but to the current prisoners as well.

The reality is that although states like Maryland have made significant progress in repealing its death penalty, the only way to eliminate the risk of executing an innocent person is for the governor to immediately commmute the sentences of Maryland’s death row inhabitants.