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Maryland Death Penalty Commission Final Report

Maryland Death Penalty Commission Final Report

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Published by Scott Cobb
The Commission shall study all aspects of capital punishment as currently and historically administered in the state. The Commission shall make recommendations concerning the application and administration of capital punishment in the state so that they are free from bias and error and achieve fairness and accuracy. The Commission shall hold public hearings and will be staffed by the GOCCP Statistical Analysis Center. The Commission shall make a final report, and if applicable, a minority report on its findings and recommendations in accordance with §2-1246 of the State Government Article, to the GA on or before December 15, 2008.

The recommendations shall address the following topic areas:

1. Racial disparities;
2. Jurisdictional disparities;
3. Socio-economic disparities;
4. A comparison of the costs associated with death sentences and the costs associated with sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole;
5. A comparison of the effects of prolonged court cases involving capital punishment and those involving life imprisonment without the possibility of parole;
6. The risk of innocent people being executed;
7. The impact of DNA evidence in assuring the fairness and accuracy of capital cases.
The Commission shall study all aspects of capital punishment as currently and historically administered in the state. The Commission shall make recommendations concerning the application and administration of capital punishment in the state so that they are free from bias and error and achieve fairness and accuracy. The Commission shall hold public hearings and will be staffed by the GOCCP Statistical Analysis Center. The Commission shall make a final report, and if applicable, a minority report on its findings and recommendations in accordance with §2-1246 of the State Government Article, to the GA on or before December 15, 2008.

The recommendations shall address the following topic areas:

1. Racial disparities;
2. Jurisdictional disparities;
3. Socio-economic disparities;
4. A comparison of the costs associated with death sentences and the costs associated with sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole;
5. A comparison of the effects of prolonged court cases involving capital punishment and those involving life imprisonment without the possibility of parole;
6. The risk of innocent people being executed;
7. The impact of DNA evidence in assuring the fairness and accuracy of capital cases.

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Published by: Scott Cobb on Dec 14, 2008
Copyright:Public Domain

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09/07/2012

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MARYLAND
COMMISSION ON
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
FINAL REPORT
TO THE
GENERAL ASSEMBLY
December 12, 2008
 
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS............................................................................................................... 2
COMMISSIONER LIST................................................................................................................ 4
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS FROM THE CHAIRMAN.................................................................. 6
INTRODUCTION.......................................................................................................................... 7
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY............................................................................................................ 9
1. RACIAL DISPARITIES ................................................................................................. 10
2. JURISDICTIONAL DISPARITIES................................................................................ 12
3. SOCIO-ECONOMIC DISPARITIES ............................................................................. 14
4. THE COMPARISON OF COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH DEATH SENTENCES AND
THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH SENTENCES OF LIFE IMPRISONMENT WITHOUT
THE POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE ........................................................................................... 15
5. THE EFFECTS OF PROLONGED COURT CASES INVOLVING CAPITAL
PUNISHMENT AND THOSE INVOLVING LIFE IMPRISONMENT WITHOUT THE
POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE.................................................................................................... 16
6. THE RISK OF INNOCENT PEOPLE BEING EXECUTED......................................... 18
7. THE IMPACT OF DNA EVIDENCE IN ASSURING FAIRNESS AND ACCURACY
IN CAPITAL CASES............................................................................................................... 20
DETERRENCE........................................................................................................................ 22
FINAL RECOMMENDATION OF THE MARYLAND COMMISSION ON CAPITAL
PUNISHMENT......................................................................................................................... 23
VOTING RECORD ................................................................................................................. 25
ISSUE 1: RACIAL DISPARITIES.............................................................................................. 26
Racial Disparities Throughout the Criminal Justice System.................................................... 26
Racial Disparities in the Maryland’s Capital Sentencing System............................................ 27
Racial Bias and Capital Juries.................................................................................................. 31
The Negative Effects That Racial Disparities Have on the Criminal Justice System.............. 32
ISSUE 2: JURISDICTIONAL DISPARITIES............................................................................ 36
The Presence of Jurisdictional Disparities in Maryland’s Capital Punishment System .......... 36
The Source of Jurisdictional Disparities in Capital Cases....................................................... 38
The Problem with Jurisdictional Disparities............................................................................ 39
ISSUE 3: SOCIO-ECONOMIC DISPARITIES.......................................................................... 41
ISSUE 4: A COMPARISON OF THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH DEATH SENTENCESAND THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH SENTENCES OF LIFE IMPRISONMENT
WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE ........................................................................... 44
The Cost of Capital Cases........................................................................................................ 44
Why Do Capital Cases Cost More? ......................................................................................... 47
What Has Maryland Gained From Its Capital Punishment System? ....................................... 50
Will Elimination of the Death Penalty Increase Some Costs?................................................. 52
2
 
ISSUE 5: A COMPARISON OF THE EFFECTS OF PROLONGED COURT CASES
INVOLVING CAPITAL PUNISHMENT AND THOSE INVOLVING LIFE IMPRISONMENT
WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE ........................................................................... 55
ISSUE 6: THE RISK OF INNOCENT PEOPLE BEING EXECUTED .................................... 61
A. Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 61
B. Widespread Exonerations and Reversals Reveal Fatal Flaws in the Capital System...... 62
C. Frailty of Eyewitness Testimony..................................................................................... 64
D. False Confession Cases ................................................................................................... 66
E. Limitations of Science..................................................................................................... 70
F. Legal Complexities and Prohibitive Defense Costs ........................................................ 75
G. Erosion of Public Trust and Confidence in the Judicial System..................................... 79
ISSUE 7: THE IMPACT OF DNA EVIDENCE IN ASSURING FAIRNESS AND
ACCURACY IN CAPITAL CASES............................................................................................ 82
A. Role of DNA Evidence in Investigations, Prosecutions, and Exonerations.................... 82
B. Scarcity of Credible DNA Evidence ............................................................................... 84
C. “DNA is a Hard Science”................................................................................................ 85
D. DNA Labs Are Not Error-Free........................................................................................ 89
E. DNA Laws in Maryland .................................................................................................. 90
F. Conclusions Relating to DNA......................................................................................... 93
OTHER ISSUES .......................................................................................................................... 95
Deterrence ................................................................................................................................ 95
A Religious Perspective on Capital Punishment.................................................................... 105
The Risk to Correctional Officers.......................................................................................... 108
Juror Issues: Comment Arising from Jury Composition and Qualification........................... 110
APPENDIX A: Report of the Victims’ Subcommittee.............................................................. 111
Victim Services in Maryland ................................................................................................. 111
Victim Services in the Future for Maryland .......................................................................... 112
Conclusion of the Victims’ Subcommittee............................................................................ 117
Victims’ Subcommittee Chart................................................................................................ 119
APPENDIX B: Commission Member Biographical Information.............................................. 120
APPENDIX C: Testimony List.................................................................................................. 125
SOURCES CITED ..................................................................................................................... 128
Articles, Reports and Lectures ............................................................................................... 128
Oral Testimony....................................................................................................................... 130
Written Testimony ................................................................................................................. 132
Maryland Statutes and Regulations........................................................................................ 133
Court Cases ............................................................................................................................ 133
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