Maryland senators rebuffed an effort to abolish the state’s death penalty yesterday, persuading lawmakers instead to restrict when capital punishment can be used, the Baltimore Sun reports. The Senate’s first full debate on the death penalty in more than three decades was cut short when amendments stripped the word “repeal” out of a repeal initiative.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a death penalty supporter, allowed debate even though a Senate committee had killed the measure last week as a courtesy to Gov. Martin O’Malley, a fellow Democrat who wants repeal. Miller noted a wave of e-mail messages by O’Malley and the governor’s use of Democratic Party resources to further the repeal effort. “I don’t think any previous governor has politicized the death penalty in such a manner,” Miller said. Since 1978, when Maryland reinstated capital punishment, the state has executed five murderers. Five men are on death row.