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Death Penalty Proponents Push for 2014 Referendum

The effort to place the issue on the ballot will be led by Democratic Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger and Washington County Republican Del. Neil Parrott.

Proponents of the death penalty in Maryland will attempt to overturn at the ballot box a new law repealing capital punishment.

The effort to place the issue before voters in 2014 will be spearheaded by Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger and Washington County Del. Neil Parrott. The pair is expected to make the effort to collect the required 55,736 official during a Friday morning announcement near Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Shellenberger said the death penalty is an important tool for prosecutors.

"One only has to look at what has taken place in our country in the last 10 years—Virginia Tech; Aurora, CO; Boston," Shellenberger said. "We don't know what is going to happen in the future but we should at least have the death penalty on the books to be considered by a state's attorney in Maryland."

The announcement comes just one day after Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the bill making Maryland the 18th state to repeal the death penalty. The effort was part of the governor's legislative priorities for the 2013 session.

Barring a successful effort to place the law on the 2014 ballot, the law takes affect on Oct. 1.

The group plans to use Parrott's website, MDPetitions.com, to collect the signatures.

The website was responsible for helping to quickly collect signatures of registered voters that placed same-sex marriage and the Maryland DREAM Act on the ballot.

Shellenberger and Parrott will need to collect about one-third of the required signatures—about 18,400 voters—by May 31 to move forward with their effort.

Parrott's website was credited with allowing referendum efforts in 2012 to quickly collect signatures in far greater numbers than what was required by law.

The site was also responsible for the increased of valid signatures by allowing registered voters to electronically fill in their information directly from voter registration rolls. That led to signature validation rates approaching 90 percent in some counties.

Prior to the website, petitions collected by hand typically had a rejection rate of about 50 percent.

Ultimately, those petition efforts failed at the ballot box because of lackluster campaigns once the issues were placed before voters.

Shellenberger said he hopes to change that for the 2014 election.

"I'm deeply committed to seeing us get it on the ballot and committed to assisting in the election in 2014," Shellenberger said. "I think clearly we learned form the last election that just getting the issue on the ballot is not enough. We have to see it through to the end and make sure that voters understand the issue.

"The real effort begins in the spring and summer of 2014," Shellenberger said.

A March poll released by the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College found that a majority of Marylanders surveyed favored retaining the death penalty but preferred life in prison without parole as a punishment for murder.

The poll reported that 51 percent of those surveyed favored retaining capital punishment in Maryland compared to 43 percent who said they favored abolishing the law.

“During this past week, the Maryland General Assembly has taken the first steps to add Maryland to the list of 17 other states that have abolished the use of the death penalty,” Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center, said in March. “While citizens appear to overestimate its use, prefer life imprisonment without parole, and express doubts over whether the death penalty deters murder, half of Maryland residents do not want the death penalty taken completely off the table.”

CP May 10, 2013 at 02:27 PM
Texas is awesome. I would love to move their. So much more to do and fewer morons.
CP May 10, 2013 at 02:28 PM
And you are just an ahole with teeth!
CP May 10, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Truthful you need testicles to win. We all know that liberal men have none. Closet cases.
dwb May 10, 2013 at 04:13 PM
Cost, selective application, and potential innocence are not arguments against the death penalty. They are arguments for improving the application of the death penalty. Insofar as giving life with no parole vs death to an innocent man, its a distinction without a difference. Innocence projects are far less likely to scrutinize the evidence for someone given life (or a long sentence), so the probability of a successful appeal is much smaller. The chances for a family, life, career are mostly over if one gets a 20 year sentence where they come out in their 50s. It's life-destroying, and possibility of getting out is only meaningful if somebody is looking as hard at those defendants. Life without parole, or 20 years in jail, with minimal appeal possibility is just as final as death for practical purposes. Last, as far as "state sanctioned death," well, self defense is perfectly appropriate and lawful. Consider Tayvon White. Is there any doubt that if continued to be allowed to live that he will continue to run his gang (from jail) somehow and order the killing of people? The "state" executes people like Osama Bin Laden all the time, for good reasons, not merely punishment and crime deterrence. How about people who kill other people in jail? These people are an ongoing threat. What do you do give them, another life sentence? In this case, the death penalty saves lives. Also, to *completely abolish it* removes a key bargaining tool for a prosecutor who might secure a plea.
Corbin Dallas Multipass May 10, 2013 at 07:27 PM
"Innocence projects are far less likely to scrutinize the evidence for someone given life (or a long sentence), so the probability of a successful appeal is much smaller." If that were the case, then why would, as has been stated earlier in this very thread, the number of people exonerated through the innocence project that spent time on Death Row be only 18 of 306? If they were only focusing on Death Row cases then how did they find the time for all those other cases where people were not on Death Row? "18 of the 306 people exonerated through DNA served time on death row. Another 16 were charged with capital crimes but not sentenced to death." Source: http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/DNA_Exonerations_Nationwide.php

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