MARYLAND

Maryland death penalty: Martin O'Malley, NAACP want repeal

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The NAACP is joining Gov. Martin O'Malley and lawmakers in a call to repeal the death penalty.

Benjamin Jealous, the CEO of the National Association of Colored People, participated in the news conference on Tuesday in Annapolis.

Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings and Gerald Stansbury, president of the NAACP's state conference, were expected to attend.

Among those gathered to hear Governor O'Malley throw his power behind an effort to eliminate the death penalty in Maryland was Shujaa Graham, a  former death row inmate.

“It’s been a long wait for me as a death row survivor,” says Graham.

In 1976, Graham was convicted of a California murder he didn’t commit and was sentenced to death

“And after being on San Quentin’s death row for three years the courts overturned my conviction,” he says. “I’m here to say capital punishment doesn’t resolve any of our problems that exist in our society.”

There are currently five men, all convicted killers, on Maryland’s death row, but there hasn’t been an execution since 2005. After that, a moratorium kicked in over questions about the state’s lethal injection procedures. It is expected that O’Malley will be able to twist enough arms to pass a repeal, but it will be close.

Senator James Bronchin says he won’t budge in his support for the death penalty.

“The thought of a rapist or murderer walking after 25 or 30 years in this state of Maryland is incomprehensible to me,” he says.

Graham says sending more people to death row is what’s incomprehensible to him.

The potential of repealing capital punishment in Maryland has been highlighted since the General Assembly convened last week for the state of its legislative session.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, who supports capital punishment, predicted last week that a measure banning capital punishment would pass this year. The Senate president also said he believed it would be petitioned to the ballot for voters to decide in 2014.

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