Moms, Death Row and MarylandPosted January 24th, 2013 by Monifa Bandele
Imagine if you were the mother of someone who was found innocent, by irrefutable new DNA evidence, after having been wrongly imprisoned and placed on death row for a crime he/she did not commit. For any mother, it would be horrifying. Shockingly, death sentences for innocent people are not rare. Nationally, 142 people condemned to death have been proven innocent of their crimes since 1976.
Today, moms can make sure that this never happens in Maryland again.
DNA evidence is only available in 10% of all death penalty cases. And, we know that as human beings all of our systems have at least a small degree of error. In the case of the death penalty, an innocent person could pay the ultimate price because of an imperfect system.
Right now, in Maryland, mothers like you and me can change this so that no mother must worry that her son or daughter will be executed for a crime he/she did not commit.
The time to act is NOW! A majority of Maryland legislators in both houses have said they support the current repeal bill and Governor O’Malley wants to sign it. But before this can happen the bill must be brought to the floor for a vote.
This death penalty repeal bill will not only stop the execution of innocent people, it will also direct new resources to the families of homicide victims. The legislation will reallocate $500,000 annually to the Maryland Victims of Crime Fund, which is devoted to the needs of murder victims’ families. Helping families navigate the trauma of violent crime is a good investment and will promote healthier and safer communities around Maryland.
The bill also makes sense for the state’s economy. A 2008 study commissioned by the Abell Foundation found that the average death penalty case adds almost $2 million in expenses to the state’s budget, and that the cumulative costs for Maryland’s death penalty cases is $186 million.
Your voice is critical! Legislators who are unsure about where they stand on repealing the death penalty say that want to hear from their constituents on this matter before they will support bringing the bill to a vote.
There is simply no such thing as a foolproof death penalty. A national study in 2005 found that perjury committed by people giving testimony against the defendant was the most common factor contributing to a wrongful murder conviction.
Race is also a factor!
A 2003 University of Maryland study found that the primary factors leading to a death sentence in Maryland are the race of the victim and the jurisdiction of the crime. These racial and jurisdictional disparities still persist today. In every Maryland murder that has resulted in an execution since the 1978 reinstatement of capital punishment, all of the victims were white. This is also true for all pending death sentences in MD.
The racial disparity in this situation is stark given that more than three-quarters of Maryland’s homicide victims are African-Americans.
*Tell the MD General Assembly: The time is now to repeal the death penalty in Maryland and invest resources in services for the families of homicide victims: http://action.momsrising.org/sign/MDRepealDeathPenalty1
We have the chance to end an unfair and imperfect death penalty system. Please share this letter with your family, friends and neighbors.
Together, we are a force for woman and families!