Last week, Martin O’Malley, the Governor of Maryland lobbied hard and debated that death penalty law should be revoked. Consequently, Maryland has become the 18th state in United States to repeal death penalty. The Governor has given several pragmatic claims to support his decision, especially by mentioning that death penalty is extensive and ‘proven not to work.’ Considering that he is a likely candidate for 2016 presidential elections, it is assumed that the reason to repeal death penalty is more or so political. But O’Malley considering that O’Malley has already written a Post op-ed in 2007 called, ‘Why I oppose the Death Penalty,’ reveals that he also has a set of personal principles which support the revoking of death penalty.
Whether the decision is political or based on personal principle, one thing is clear that the ban has several implications for his political future, especially when he seeks to become a presidential candidate.
So, is the Governor having an edge over the others?
Well, if advocates are to be believed then yes! At least, most of the advocates hope and think that he is currently on the leading edge. The National Coalition has issued the statement, “Maryland is the bellwether for the country on the death penalty,’ indicating that they not just support the repealing but also believe that such a change can inspire other states as well.
But a recent CNN poll indicates different and a more complicated version to this issue. The poll, conducted in 2011 indicates that 50 percent of the population would prefer a murdered being given life penalty over death and 48 percent disagreed to the thought. But in early 2013 poll by Gallup, it was noticed that 63 percent of the participants supported death penalty.
Now, it is true that the popularity of death penalty has decreased since the mid 1990’s when over 80 percent of the participants supported execution. With decreasing crime rate and increasing DNA evidence, the idea for death penalty subsided. But in the state of Maryland, which is considered to be a strong democratic region, majority of people still support death penalty. Therefore, the chances are that the issue can end up on the ballot next year along with the laws on same-sex marriage and state’s version of DREAM Act.
Hence, it may be assumed that Governor O’Malley’s decision to repeal the death penalty is not taken solely with political agendas. In fact, his political advisor issued a statement saying that the governor repealed it because it was the right thing to do.
Plus, if the data is to be believed, then death penalty has been quietly waned off in most states. The number of people executed since 1996 have reduced to 75 percent, with only nine states executing inmates in 2012. Even the current President, Obama supports death penalty only under narrow circumstances. So O’Malley shouldn’t really fear a backlash on the issue and maybe, he will score a few points with the democratic. But still, he needs to take a stand on a number of issues before being propelled to stardom!