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One of the many bills working its way through the legislative process this session is the repeal of the death penalty.

I have received a number of inquiries concerning the details of the bill and appreciate the opportunity to highlight the main points.

By way of background, in 2008, the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment was established, and based on the recommendations of the board, made up of 23 appointees representing diversity of views on this subject, the commission issued its final report to the General Assembly.

It stated that “to eliminate racial and jurisdictional bias, reduce unnecessary costs, lessen the misery that capital cases force family members of victims to endure and eliminate the risk that an innocent person can be convicted, capital punishment be abolished in Maryland” and that the savings from repealing the death penalty be used to increase the services and resources already provided to families of victims.

Based on these recommendations, the administration has crafted a bill that in part states that “a person who commits a murder in the first degree is guilty of a felony and, on conviction, shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole; or imprisonment for life.”

The bill further outlines at great length the circumstances, process and definitions related to the repeal. I fully expect that there will be spirited debate on this bill, and it is likely that many amendments will follow.

While most of the work will take place in the Judiciary Committee, I will try to keep abreast of its progress. In principal, I support life in prison without the possibility of parole as the alternative to the death penalty.

I also support the families and friends of victims getting financial compensation as some acknowledgment of their loss and suffering. My positions are based on research that shows that the death penalty does not deter crime, is very expensive as a result of the extensive appeals process and subjects the victims’ family and friends to extended periods of suffering.

I hope this has been useful in providing information on the background, the main provisions of the bill and my position.

I promise to follow the issue closely and always remain available to discuss the matter or answer any questions related to this bill.

I thank you for allowing me to serve you in the Maryland General Assembly.

Peter F. Murphy, Bryans Road

The writer is a member of the House of Delegates, representing Maryland’s District 28.