ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Death penalty opponents believe the 2013 Maryland General Assembly session will spell the end of the death penalty in the state.

Political reporter Pat Warren explains the campaign to repeal the death penalty has already started.

The death penalty divides the families of murder victims.

“It’s not justice to me to have another dead body in place of my brother’s dead body,” said one woman.

“She did not get 14 years of appeals. She did not have people protesting to save her life,” said one man.

It divides the socially conscious, and it divides the General Assembly.

“It was a crime in Baltimore where a person killed a shopkeeper and then locked him in the freezer with his little child,” said Senate President Mike Miller. “Somebody that commits crimes like that in my opinion deserves the death penalty.”

The debate opened again Thursday with the national NAACP president meeting with Governor Martin O’Malley. The governor is an avid opponent of capital punishment but so far has failed to get it repealed.

“We see this as the year that we finally repeal the death penalty and replace it with common sense,” said NAACP President Benjamin Jealous.

Death penalty supporters will argue that it is needed.

“We don’t seek it often but when we do seek it, we think it’s a crime that deserves the ultimate punishment,” said Scott Schellenberger.

But the NAACP believes Governor O’Malley can capitalize on the momentum of success he has had with other tough issues.

“Frankly, I think it gives us all great hope. We were all in together in pushing through some things that people thought couldn’t be done,” said Jealous.

The NAACP supported same-sex marriage and the Dream Act.

Baltimore lawmakers will take the lead in this session’s effort to repeal the death penalty. The bill will be sponsored by Delegate Sandy Rosenberg and state Senator Lisa Gladden.

Governor O’Malley did not comment on the meeting Thursday morning but has assured the NAACP he will make repeal a priority.


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