Departing Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has commuted the sentences of the state's four death row inmates to life in prison without parole. The move will be seen in some quarters as a challenge to other states facing growing legal and scientific challenges over the ethical and chemical realities of executions, says the Christian Science Monitor.
It could also test the poignancy of the death penalty as a political issue in a nation where 60 percent of Americans support the death penalty, but most do so, Cornell law Prof. John Blume told the National Journal, not out of passion but as a “reflexive opinion.” O'Malley led a legislative effort two years ago to abolish the death penalty in Maryland, which New Mexico and Connecticut also did. That law applied only to future convictions, meaning that it left four convicted murderers in a legal limbo.