Maryland could be just weeks away from abolishing the death penalty. Several state lawmakers are expressing optimism they can repeal capital punishment. Hearings in the state House and Senate are scheduled for February 14th.
"I think people are finding out that the death penalty does not work, whether it's Maryland or any of these other places that have abandoned the practice," said Kirk Noble Bloodsworth on Jansing & Co., an advocate for abolishing the death penalty.
Bloodsworth is the first person whose capital conviction was overturned as a result of DNA testing in the U.S. He was convicted of murdering a child in 1984 and spent nearly nine years in prison, two on death row, before DNA evidence exonerated him in 1993.
"Seventy-eight percent of all wrongful convictions are because of witness identification problems," Bloodsworth said. "There's 27% of wrongful convictions because of false confessions."
In addition, Bloodsworth says the death penalty is applied disproportionately to African-Americans and said the punishment shows "racial bias."
Bloodworth said he is confident Maryland lawmakers will pass a bill to abolish capital punishment soon. Since 1976, Maryland has executed five convicts—the last one taking place in 2005. Currently, there are five men on death row in the state.
"One good thing about Maryland is we have appropriation within the bill that the savings from the death penalty would go to the victims crime fund," said Bloodsworth. "It's one of the only packages that's ever been put together like this. It would really help people."