Maryland to end death penalty

Legislators in Maryland have sent a bill abolishing the death penalty to the state’s governor, Martin O’Malley, and the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (KCADP) says it is a good sign for the future of efforts to abolish capital punishment in Kentucky.

O’Mally, according to a news release from the coalition, “asked for the bill and is certain to sign it.”

“This will bring to 18 the number of states no longer engaged in the execution of prisoners,” said Father Patrick Delahanty, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky and chair of the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

“With six states abandoning (the death penalty) in the past six years,” he said, “it is time for Kentucky lawmakers to consider repealing the law here.”

Father Delahanty noted that a recent study of the state’s capital punishment system showed that it is broken, “prone to mistakes and expensive to operate.”

The coalition news release said that a recent article in the Frankfort, Ky., State Journal featured Ben Griffith, brother of a murder victim and board member of the KCADP, who urgently advocates for an end to the practice in Kentucky.

This mirrors what has happened in Maryland, the release said, where the effort to repeal the death penalty had significant support from the family members of murder victims. The repeal effort also had the support of some members of the law enforcement community and faith organizations, the KCADP release said.

State Rep. Carl Rollins and State Sen. Gerald Neal both introduced repeal bills in the recent session of the Kentucky General Assembly, but with little success.

“We hope to see hearings on abolition in the Joint Interim Judiciary Committee before the 2014 session begins next January,” Father Delahanty said. “Days like this remind us it is only a matter of ‘when,’ not ‘if’ Kentucky will abolish the death penalty.”

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