Movie 'Dead Man Walking'
Some state lawmakers hope the author who inspired the movie "Dead Man Walking"
will revive efforts to abolish Maryland's death penalty.
A bill to abolish the death penalty in Maryland has overwhelming support in the
House of Delegates, but it's not being heard by committee and it's stalled in a
Sister Helen Prejean, a petite fireball who is very persuasive, has made
abolishing the death penalty her life's mission, WBAL-TV 11 News reporter David
Prejean is a tireless opponent of the death penalty. In 1981, she began a
prison ministry in New Orleans. She became a spiritual adviser to a Louisiana
death row inmate, and she has witnessed 6 state executions.
"It's a thing about a wave hitting the shore. It's a thing about the way social
change comes in the country, and it's happening around the death penalty. We
see the diminishing across the nation in the practice of the death penalty,"
Legislation to repeal Maryland's death penalty and provide a maximum sentence
of life in prison without parole is in limbo at the State House, Collins said.
The House version of the bill includes a provision to transfer money saved from
eliminating the death penalty to strengthen services provided to the families
of murder victims.
"The death penalty doesn't do anything to help victims' families. It's such an
illusory and false promise," Prejean said.
The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee has scheduled a hearing for the bill
to take place Wednesday. The committee's chairman -- Montgomery County Sen.
Brian Frosh, D-District 16 -- told Collins that if a vote had been held Friday,
the measure would have failed. A gang of 6 senators on the committee -- three
Republicans and three Democrats -- are on record opposing a repeal of capital
punishment, Collins reported.
In the House, the legislation has 66 co-sponsors, but by Friday evening, a
House committee hadn't even scheduled a hearing on the measure.
"We hope to continue to build momentum to end the death penalty in Maryland,"
said Baltimore City Delegate Sandy Rosenberg, D-District 41, the bill's
Baltimore City Delegate Lisa Gladden, D-District 41 -- who is sponsoring the
Senate's version of the bill -- said she plans to circumvent the committee
process. When and if the House sends the measure to the Senate, Gladden said
she plans to petition it directly to the Senate floor.
Prejean and other bill supporters said they hope for divine intervention to
"hold Maryland up for the world as a moral leader for human rights that
government doesn't kill its citizens anymore."
(source: WBAL TV)