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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Maryland's New Death Penalty Restrictions

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- It's not the full repeal she had lobbied for, but Mary Ellen Russell hailed the House of Delegates for passing significant restrictions on the death penalty in Maryland. "We're really very pleased with the outcome of the vote," said Russell, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm of the state's Catholic bishops."

This measure is a significant step forward in ensuring that innocent lives will not be taken through the death penalty and in ensuring that capital punishment will be narrowed in scope," she told The Catholic Review, newspaper of the Baltimore Archdiocese.

The House of Delegates voted 87-52 to pass the measure March 26; the Senate had previously approved it by a 33-12 vote. Gov. Martin J. O'Malley announced in a March 26 statement that he will sign the restrictions into law in the coming weeks.

The newly approved restrictions will allow the death penalty in first-degree murder cases only when defendants are linked to the crime through DNA or biological evidence, videotaped evidence or a videotaped confession. It is considered one of the toughest sets of limitations on capital punishment in the nation.

Source: Catholic News Service

The intention of the new measures is to reduce the number of executions of persons who are later found to be innocent of the crime for which they were convicted. Let's hope it works!

I wonder if it will also cause greater suffering for some? C.S. Lewis explores this possibility in his thoughtful essay on capital punishement which can be read here.

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