In his quest to bolster his résumé for a run to be the Democratic nominee for President in 2016, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley will go after the death penalty in the upcoming legislative session.
How crass is the politics in this issue? The current prisoners on Maryland’s death row cannot be executed because Martin O’Malley’s administration has refused to issue new guidelines for the use of the death penalty as required by the Maryland Court of Appeals 6 years ago. The protocols used for the death penalty (which are already written) would have to be submitted officially for public review and comment, and then approved by the General Assembly’s AELR committee, which is dominated by anti-death penalty liberals. Essentially, O’Malley COULD follow the Court’s ruling and do his job, and still leave it to the legislature to shoot down.
Not only is it impossible for death penalty to be used until the Administration puts forth the regulations, but in 2009 with the help of state Senator Jim Brochin, Governor O’Malley got a bill passed that so limits the way the death penalty is used that it almost entirely eliminates the possibility of a death sentence being imposed against an innocent person. The State now must have DNA evidence, a videotaped confession, or a video CONCLUSIVLEY linking the defendant to the murder.
When Governor Martin O’Malley makes his push this year to eliminate the death penalty again, it is not about justice, or morality, it is about his future political ambitions. Maryland just had a case that was text book for the need for the death penalty to exist as an option when Lee Edward Stephens killed correctional officer Corporal David McGuinn. Stephens was already serving a life sentence plus 15 years when he decided to fatally stab Corporal McGuinn because McGuinn was a “by the book” prison guard, doing his job.
Stephens was found in his cell right after the stabbing washing McGuinn’s blood off of his clothes. The DNA evidence was there as required by O’Malley’s new law. Despite the fact that the execution couldn’t happen because the O’Malley Administration refused to publish the regulations correctly, the State’s Attorney in Anne Arundel County still tried to pursue the death penalty because if there is no greater punishment to what Stephens was already serving, what would stop him from stabbing another prison guard?
But, in showing that the system that is currently in place works to a certain degree for what Governor Martin O’Malley wants, the jury chose not to implement the death penalty in this case. However, when the next correctional officer decides to follow the rules and is attacked by Evans, God forbid, that jury will look at the facts of a three time murder, twice being prison guards, and will have the option to use the death penalty because at that point there would be no denying that this person is truly the worst of the worst.
Statistics also show that the Death Penalty in modern Maryland history is not being applied arbitrarily or in great numbers. In the past 50 years there have been 5 people executed in Maryland.
As Governor O’Malley makes his push that there should be a limit to the punishment, it will be on the backdrop of a public searching for something to be done about the “worst of the worst.” Gun control will certainly be O’Malley’s option to pursue, but it can only go so far in the equation. Had William Spengler not shot himself after shooting 4 firefighters and killing 2, he would be a perfect face for the death penalty, since his original stint in prison for killing his grandmother showed that he was not able to be reformed, and since he was not legally able to possess a firearm.
Unfortunately for the correctional officers that put their lives on the line every day, Governor O’Malley thinks it is better to score some political points for his run for President that to keep then to provide a deterrent or justice to an inmate that goes after them.