Poll: Marylanders Favor Replacing Death Penalty By Wide Margin

New survey shows residents support life sentences over capital punishment 61% to 33%.

(BALTIMORE)—In the lead up to an historic Assembly vote that would end the death penalty in Maryland, A new poll by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc., shows that the vast majority of Marylanders support the end of the death penalty in the state.

"The death penalty costs millions of dollars more than life without the possibility of parole, yet fails to deter crime," said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP. “By ending the death penalty, we can make Maryland safer and more just by investing those funds in expanding homicide units and victim services.”

On January 15th, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley joined the NAACP, NAACP Maryland State Conference, Maryland CASE and others to call for an end to the state's death penalty law. The state assembly is expected to vote on the legislation within this legislative session.

"This is the right next fight for our state,” said Gerald Stansbury, President of the NAACP Maryland State Conference. “Every exoneration is a reminder that this is an imperfect mechanism where the error cannot be undone, and we know that the arbitrary application of the death penalty disparately impacts communities of color and the poor."

From 1923 to present 77 percent of those executed in Maryland were Black. According to the survey 69 percent of African-American oppose the death penalty, while only 23 percent do not.

The 2008 Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment, chaired by former U.S Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti, recommended ending the death penalty in the state – finding that it did not deter murder, was more expensive than life imprisonment and that the race of a victim was a major determinant in death sentencing.

The Commission also found that death sentences brought additional hardships on the families of murder victims and that support for such families was lacking. This fueled the Commission's second recommendation that the savings from repeal be used to increase and improve services for surviving families.

The poll released by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. also shows that 62 percent of residents overall either “strongly” or “somewhat” agree with using some of the savings for this purpose.

Maryland would be the sixth state to abandon the death penalty in recent years, following New York (2004), New Jersey (2007), New Mexico (2009), Illinois (2010) and Connecticut (2011).

For more information, contact Derek Turner at 202-292-3383 or dturner@naacpnet.org.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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