Three Cheers for Martin O’Malley

Three Cheers for Martin O’Malley January 2, 2015

Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland is leaving office shortly after two terms and in one of his last acts as governor, he commuted the sentences of the four men on death row in that state to life sentences without parole. The death penalty has already been outlawed for future convicts.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) will commute all remaining death sentences for those in the state’s prison system to life without parole, he announced Wednesday. Maryland’s General Assembly repealed the state’s death penalty in 2013 for all future convictions.

In a statement, O’Malley said, “In a representative government, state executions make every citizen a party to a legalized killing as punishment.” He noted that the legality of executing the four remaining death row inmates was in question and argued that “leaving these death sentences in place does not serve the public good of the people of Maryland — present or future.”

Bravo, governor. The former governor of Illinois did the same thing a few years ago. The death penalty should be abolished nationwide. My argument against it is not so much moral as practical. Given the manifestly unjust nature of our criminal justice system at every level, we simply do not have any good reason to believe that we could avoid executing innocent people and many good reasons to believe the opposite. Carrying out an irrevocable punishment is unconscionable under such circumstances.

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