Banner: Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.
  Home | Protecting Consumers | Safeguarding Children | Seniors | Law Enforcement | Site Map Search
For Immediate Release
January 30, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357


Attorney General Curran at announcementAttorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today that he has called for the abolition of the death penalty in an open letter to Governor Robert Ehrlich, Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele and members of the General Assembly. Curran noted the national rate of exonerations in capital cases, recent public questioning of the way the death penalty is administered in Maryland, as well as the existence of life without parole in calling for an end to executions.

"Let me be absolutely clear: life without parole means death in prison," Attorney General Curran said. "Yet there is one, pivotal difference between death in prison and the death penalty. That is reversibility."

In Curran’s letter, he noted that 102 people on death row have been exonerated nationally since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, and he also described one horrifying case of justice coming too late for a Texas man. Sunny Jacobs sat on death row for five of her 17 years in prison for a murder she and her common-law husband did not commit. Lawyers eventually uncovered evidence which proved their innocence, but not in time to save Jesse Tafero, who had been executed two years before.

Curran also argued that, in addition to the inevitability of mistake, serious questions about racial and geographic disparities in Maryland’s application of the death penalty call into serious doubt the current system.

With seven executions scheduled to take place in Maryland in the coming months, Curran urged legislative action "at this critical juncture in the fractured history of the death penalty in Maryland," and congratulated Senator Sharon Grosfeld on the bill she plans to submit tomorrow echoing Curran’s call for abolition.

Curran wrote of his decision to family members of victims of death row inmates currently awaiting execution .

Joined by a host of leaders from Maryland’s religious community, Curran said that because of the system’s "fallibility," capital punishment can come only at the "intolerable cost of executing, every so often, the wrong person." Curran called this risk "unworthy of us," and concluded that it "fails to pass for justice in a civilized society."

Attorney General's remarks at press conference
Attorney General's open letter to Governor, General Assembly



Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
Home | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us