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Thom Little Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-05 11:30 AM
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Death penalty foes urge review of racial study
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By Jennifer McMenamin
Baltimore Sun
Sunday, Dec. 4, 2005

When a major study found glaring disparities in the imposition of the death penalty in Maryland, opponents of capital punishment hoped it would spark reform -- or even the abolition of executions in the state. But as Wesley Eugene Baker faces a scheduled execution that could occur as soon as tomorrow, death penalty opponents are incensed and frustrated that so little has been done to address what they consider disturbing patterns of race and geography in the way the state imposes the ultimate sanction.

Baker is a black man convicted of killing a white woman in Baltimore County -- circumstances that the study found most likely to lead to a death sentence in Maryland. He would be the first black man to be put to death in the state since the 2003 release of the state-funded study.

"Absolutely nothing -- and I mean nothing -- has been done, and it's kind of outrageous," said Jane Henderson, executive director of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions. "All three branches of government in Maryland are refusing to deal with this."

Legislation to appoint a commission to examine the study's findings and make recommendations never emerged from the General Assembly. Efforts to extend a moratorium imposed in 2002 by then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening or to repeal Maryland's death penalty law failed. And the state's highest court has refused to rule on the merits of legal claims filed by death row inmates, including Baker, who have asked to have their sentences overturned based on the study's results.
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