Abolish the Death Penalty:
by william hughes

Re: HB 102-Abolish the Death Penalty (March 7, 2001)
Before the House of Delegate's Judiciary Committee
Annapolis, Md.

My name is William Hughes. I am an attorney and an author from Baltimore City.

I don't believe the state of Maryland should be in the business of executing convicted criminals. This is a barbaric practice that has no place in a civilized society. The death penalty doesn't deter criminals either. What it does do is teach the wrong lesson that it is alright to kill, if you have a supposedly righteous cause and the power to carry it out.

When a society stoops to executing defenseless individuals, it also erodes the more enduring values of our Republic. Revenge is not one of those values, nor is it a virtue. The state should not be used as a tool to balance some mythical scale of justice that has its roots in the biblical era.

HB 102 is also timely. It is clear from recent statistics that it is the poor and minorities who are disproportionately the victims of the death penalty hysteria. If you're wealthy, the chances are you will be able to retain the best kind of legal representation and even if you don't beat the case, such a defendant will more than likely escape receiving the ultimate penalty. The recent murder case involving one of the DuPonts comes to my mind. He was able to plead the insanity defense in his situation.

In addition, statistics compiled by the "National Coalition Against the Death Penalty," show that since 1972, 69 people convicted of a capital offense in this country and awaiting the death sentence have since been found innocent and released from custody. Twelve states and the District of Columbia are without capital punishment laws. Let Maryland join that group.

This Committee should be aware that death penalty cases for indigent defendants cost the taxpayers, too, through their funding of the state's "Public Defenders Office."

Equity and justice demand an end to the state's killing machine. HB 102 warrants the approval of this honorable Committee.

© William Hughes

William Hughes is the author of “Andrew Jackson vs. New World Order” (Authors Choice Press) and “Baltimore Iconoclast” (Writer’s Showcase), which are availabel online. He can be reached at liamhughes@mindspring.com.

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