Maryland Death Row Inmates

The Time To Speak Is Now

Among the people of conscience, the debate of the use of state-sanctioned murder as a means of societal control remains a passionate one on both sides of the issue. Given the enormity of the question and the finality of the punishment, vigorous but meaningful debate is necessary as it relates to the use of death as a punishment.

The time to speak up is when you recognize that what you see is wrong.

The death penalty is not only immoral; it is an unreasonable response to violent crime in our society. This is not withstanding the fact that the use of death as a punishment has either been abolished or is in decline in all countries that the United States claims to be descended from.

The European Council, which is made up of many of the same nations that make up NATO, has for years been attempting to influence the United States to take a broader approach in the disclosure of human rights violations in its own backyard. The council continues to urge the United States to come into compliance with Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

When it comes to the death penalty being given out disproportionately to the poor, the mentally and emotionally unbalanced, and African American segments of our society, legislated morality says that it is okay to kill these people in our names.

Who the state chooses to seek the death penalty against has an awful lot to do with the socio-economic status of the accused and the race of the victim. There are no rich men on death row. Who receives the death penalty for crimes which have legislatively [been] determined to be death-eligible crimes and who does not is especially demonstrated in the cases of African Americans who kill whites as opposed to African Americans who kill other African Americans. Indeed, it is almost as if an African American accused of killing a white person is guilty of violating some sort of private code beyond that of the murder itself.

Those citizens who advocate the use of state-sanctioned murder are often revealed as people who have been duped by glib politicians -- duped into believing that the death penalty is a sort of remedy for violent crimes. Or they may be the relatives or friends of murder victims and are attempting to vent their anger, pain and frustration over the loss of a loved one to a violent crime. Pro-death politicians simply take this genuine pain and use it for political gain.

Taking this into consideration what can realistically be said to remain of the premise on which the moral argument for state-sanctioned murder rests? State-sanctioned murder as a punishment can not and never will be just because it does not proceed from reason.

Signed by Kenneth Collins, Daris Ware, Kevin Wiggins, Wesley Baker, Heath Burch, Steven Oken, Clarence Conyers, John Miller, Jody Miles, Lawrence Borchardt, Wally Ball (former death row inmate; sentence vacated), Joseph Metheny (former death row inmate; sentence overturned)