Rev. John Dear, S.J.

by Fr. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace

Maryland’s had the death penalty since 1638; that is, until Thursday, when Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed a law abolishing it. This is cause for great rejoicing and gratitude. Maryland becomes the 18th state to abolish the death penalty. Six states have done so in the last six years. That leaves 32 states.

“Maryland has effectively eliminated a policy that is proven not to work,” O’Malley said. “Evidence shows that the death penalty is not a deterrent, it cannot be administered without racial bias, and it costs three times as much as life in prison without parole,” he said in a statement. “Furthermore, there is no way to reverse a mistake if an innocent person is put to death. Working together with law enforcement partners, Maryland has driven down violent crime and homicides to three decade lows.”

You could say that after almost 400 years, Maryland has finally entered the age of enlightenment. Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP, put it this way: “This is the day we join the rest of Western civilization.”

Does that mean that the other 32 states have yet to join Western civilization? Unfortunately, yes…

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