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This year, the Maryland General Assembly has an opportunity to repeal the death penalty in Maryland.

The members of Patuxent Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends affirm Quakers’ historic opposition to capital punishment. We do not believe the death penalty is moral, humane or in any way beneficial to the health and well-being of our community, state or country.

We acknowledge that people have the need and the right to feel safe and have order in their communities. We are aware of the horror and pain that acts of violence bring to a community, and we grieve at the loss of life that victims, families and society experience. However, an eye for an eye does not secure our safety, strengthen our communities or take away the pain that the crime has caused. Capital punishment only magnifies the tragedy of a lost life by killing again and produces the very brutality it seeks to prevent. Furthermore, there have been many innocent people who have been on death row and who have been executed by mistake, a mistake that we, as a society, should not tolerate. Additionally, history confirms that the death penalty has been unevenly applied to minorities and those with low income.

Although always represented as an action of the state, capital punishment requires specific state employees to kill a human being, at a moral and psychological cost to themselves that neither they nor the state can calculate in advance. In fact, a legal execution requires each of us to participate in another person’s death as citizens and representatives of the government that sanctions this type of punishment. When the state kills in our name, we are all responsible. We wish to state emphatically that we do not want our public servants to kill in our names or for our taxes to be used in this way.

We encourage those who are concerned about the safety of our communities to join in seeking a society that does not promote violence and vengeance as legitimate responses to violent crime.

Vicki Rhoades, Sunderland

The writer is a member of the Patuxent Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends Peace and Social Action Committee.