ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor O’Malley today issued the following statement on the sentences of the four remaining inmates sentenced to death in Maryland:
“In a representative government, state executions make every citizen a party to a legalized killing as punishment.
“Two years ago, after much debate and consideration, the Maryland General Assembly abolished the death penalty in our State replacing the sentence with life without the possibility of parole.
“The General Assembly’s abolition of the death penalty was not challenged in referendum.
“There are four inmates who currently sit on Maryland’s death row.
“Recent appeals and the latest opinion on this matter by Maryland’s Attorney General have called into question the legality of carrying out earlier death sentences — sentences imposed prior to abolition. In fact, the Attorney General has opined that the carrying out of prior sentences is now illegal in the absence of an existing statute.
“I have now met or spoken with many of the survivors of the victims of these brutal murders.
“They are all good and decent people who have generously granted me the courtesy of discussing the cases of their individual family members. I am deeply grateful and appreciative of their willingness to speak with me.
“They have borne their grief bravely along with the additional torment of an un-ending legal process. If endless death penalty appeals were to continue, these family members would, no doubt, persevere through that process with continued courage and fortitude. Of this I have no doubt.
“The question at hand is whether any public good is served by allowing these essentially un-executable sentences to stand.
“In my judgment, leaving these death sentences in place does not serve the public good of the people of Maryland — present or future.
“Gubernatorial inaction — at this point in the legal process — would, in my judgment, needlessly and callously subject survivors, and the people of Maryland, to the ordeal of an endless appeals process, with unpredictable twists and turns, and without any hope of finality or closure.
“In the final analysis, there is one truth that stands between and before all of us. That truth is this — few of us would ever wish for our children or grandchildren to kill another human being or to take part in the killing of another human being. The legislature has expressed this truth by abolishing the death penalty in Maryland.
“For these reasons, I intend to commute Maryland’s four remaining death sentences to life without the possibility of parole.
“It is my hope that these commutations might bring about a greater degree of closure for all of the survivors and their families.”