Maryland's outgoing Gov. Martin O'Malley either took a commonsense action that will save the state money and months of court fights, or trampled all over the cause of justice Wednesday, when he announced that he would commute the death sentences of the four remaining prisoners on Maryland's death row to life without the possibility of parole. O'Malley was a big supporter of move to abolish the death penalty, and after he signed the ban on executions into law in 2013, the state was left with four convicts still on death row. The commutation, one of O'Malley's final official acts as governor, basically means that there are no leftover executions for the state to worry about.

O'Malley, who may be thinking about running for president in 2016, said in a statement that the Attorney General's office "called into question the legality of carrying out earlier death sentences" now that the state no longer had a statute enabling executions, and said:

The question at hand is whether any public good is served by allowing these essentially un-executable sentences to stand.

In my judgment, leaving these death sentences in place does not serve the public good of the people of Maryland -- present or future.

Gubernatorial inaction -- at this point in the legal process -- would, in my judgment, needlessly and callously subject survivors, and the people of Maryland, to the ordeal of an endless appeals process, with unpredictable twists and turns, and without any hope of finality or closure.

All in all, it looks like even death penalty advocates are willing to live with with the decision; Republican Governor-elect Larry Hogan, who supports capital punishment, has said he won't try to reverse the 2013 abolition law, and refused to make an issue of O'Malley's decision to commute the sentences:

“There is only one governor at a time, and I’m not in a place to second-guess what is probably one of the most difficult decisions a governor may have to make,” Mr. Hogan said Wednesday in response to the announcement. “I am sure Governor O'Malley made his choice after a great deal of consultation and a thorough review of the facts.”

That sounds remarkably sane (or at least resigned to reality), so who knows, maybe even Republicans are starting to fall out of love with the desire to do some killing? Hahaha, don't be ridiculous! Rightwingers are already screaming about how O'Malley has disrespected the families of the victims and ignored the rule of law, and also if Dems are against executions, why are they so in love with abortion? Still, it's a nice break before the next horror story from Texas or Oklahoma comes up, which means we have a few days of blissful optimism, probably.

[NBC News / HuffPo / Washington Times / Tea Party News Network]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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