Friday, April 24, 2009

State death penalty not fairly ran

ARNOLD, MD – The new bill on capital punishment does not address racial disparities that exist within the death penalty system said Jane Henderson, executive director of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions.
“If you give the state the power to kill it’s ultimately going to be abused,” said Henderson at a press conference with a journalism class last Friday at AACC.
Bill 279 restricts the use of the death penalty to cases that involved confessions or the actual crime on videotape; as well as DNA or biological evidence that linked the defendant to the crime according to the Campus Current. The bill has passed through the Maryland General Assembly and is on its way to Gov. O’Malley.
The abuse of the death penalty seems to lie in the selection of the convicted placed on death row. None of the five prisoners that are currently on death row had African-American victims. Since the death penalty has been reinstated in 1978, none of the five death row inmates that were executed had African-American victims either. Yet, in Maryland, African-Americans comprise 75 to 80 percent of homicide cases said Henderson.
“It is shown clearly there is a pattern of racial bias,” said Henderson “a white victim case was at least twice as likely to result in the death penalty -- than a case with a black victim.”

Henderson also spoke on the jurisdictional disparities with the death penalty. Most of the prisoners that are on, or were on death row hailed from Baltimore County; mostly due to State Attorney Sandra O’Connor.
The recent bill on capital punishment (bill 279) only limits the use of possible execution; it does not ensure that the defendant gets a fair trial, or that the race of the victim will not determine the life span of the convicted.

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