Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley believes he has the votes in the legislature to abolish the death penalty in the state. At least one supporter of capital punishment is threatening a filibuster.
At a huge news conference in Annapolis, Gerald Stansbury, the president of the state's conference of NAACP's opened the proceedings with a vow: "We're going to do it this year. This is the year." The issue: whether Maryland should abolish the death penalty.
Capital punishment is rare in Maryland. No one in the Free State has been executed since 2005.
At the news conference, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown pointed out a study which shows a racial difference in capital punishment application based largely on the race of the victim of the crime.
"As recently as five years ago, a study found that in Maryland, a black defendant who kills a white victim is two-and-a-half times more likely to receive the death penalty than a white defendant who kills a white victim," said Brown.
And Brown's boss, Governor Martin O'Malley, decried the extremely high cost of capital trials, doubted the effectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrent and listed the societies around the world where executions by governments are most common.
Gov. O'Malley told reporters: "A majority of executions now take place in five countries: Iran, North Korea, Communist China, Yemen and the United States of America."
The powerful President of Maryland's Senate, Mike Miller, says capital punishment is a "gut issue," and he will likely vote to retain the death penalty in certain circumstances.
"[If] somebody serving life without parole kills a prison guard, what else is there to do?" asked Miller.
In an earlier effort to repeal the death penalty in Maryland, the proposed legislation did not get out of a Senate committee. This time, President Miller said he would allow the full chamber to vote on the issue.
State Sen. James Brochin (D--Towson), who supports capital punishment, says legislators who favor the death penalty are considering mounting a filibuster on the issue. That threat is further evidence that Governor O'Malley likely does have the votes to succeed in the legislature.