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Zirkin Throws Support Behind Death Penalty Repeal

A bill to repeal capital punishment is expected to pass out of a Senate committee with the vote of the Baltimore County Democrat.

The effort to repeal the death penalty in Maryland was stalled by the vote of one Baltimore County Democratic senator but it may pass this year because of another.

Sen. Bobby Zirkin said he will vote in favor of a bill that repeals capital punishment in the state.

"I'm forever torn on this issue, have been and probably always will be," Zirkin said in an interview Thursday. "I'm extremely jealous of people who fall comfortably on one side of the debate or the other."

In the end, Zirkin said he made the decision to vote for repealing capital punishment based on testimony of some victims who said the death penalty provided little closure because of lengthy appeals and that the state hasn't executed anyone in nearly a decade.

Zirkin said the families "suffer an unspeakable pain that continues and continues."

The repeal is one of Gov. Martin O'Malley's legislative priorities for the 2013 Maryland General Assembly session.

Zirkin's decision was first reported Thursday morning by the Washington Post.

In 2009, Zirkin sponsored a bill that tightened requirements on the use of the death penalty by requiring additional evidence including a video-taped confession, video that shows conclusively that the accused murderer committed the crime or DNA evidence.

But Zirkin was not on the Judicial Proceedings Committee at the time and has never had to cast a vote on a repeal bill.

"I was 50-50 on it four years ago," Zirkin said. "This isn't a change [of position]. It's an evolution in my thought."

Part of that evolution involved a look at which jurisdictions use the death penalty. Baltimore County has the reputation for being the most frequent user of capital punishment.

Two of the five remaining inmates on death row were convicted and sentenced in Baltimore County.

"That was one of the pivotal issues for me," Zirkin said. "Only one jurisdiction ever uses it."

In the end, Zirkin said it was not an issue of morality for him.

"I don't have a moral problem executing these monsters," Zirkin said, adding that he wants to "kill these people myself.

"But I have to separate the emotion from the practical legal reality," Zirkin continued. "The practical legal reality of our system is that it is very broken to the point that this hasn't been used in almost a decade."

Zirkin's vote will give death penalty opponents the six votes they need to get the bill out of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee . It also means that there are roughly 26 senators who will vote to pass the bill when it comes to the floor next week—two more than required.

The committee is expected to hold a vote Thursday night. The bill is expected to receive a preliminary vote by the middle of next week with a final vote that Friday, according to Sen. Brian Frosh, chairman of the committee.

In previous years, Sen. Jim Brochin, a Democrat who also represents Baltimore County, was seen as the vote that kept the repeal from moving out of committee.

Roland February 22, 2013 at 05:59 PM
Jeff, God is spelled with a capital 'G'. Of course I would expect that from someone that supports an idiot.......
Roland February 22, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Sure, let's just jail all the murderers and rapists. Lets send out the message it's okay to kill and rape because all that will happen to you is that we will pay your way for the rest of your life. That includes medical as well as educational, three meals a day, agym to work out in, cable TV, drugs and cell phones from the corrupt guards so you can carry on business, congical visits, and the list goes on. Yeah, let them live. I'm sure they didn't mean it. You know, it was their parents fault or the man down the street or the drugs or the mean kids at school...Get a grip people. Face reality and buck up....
towsonjam February 22, 2013 at 07:39 PM
Roland is a moron. Just debate the issue. You don't know our Senator. Agree or not he's a great legislator. Very caring. Very smart. Very thoughtful.
John Cofiell February 22, 2013 at 07:41 PM
With all of the budget cuts,we could save a lot of money putting death row people to there death. Why do the innocent people have the burden of paying to keep them alive.
Brad February 22, 2013 at 08:26 PM
Criminals today have more rights than the average person, they get free medical, and a 4 year college degree curdosity of the Maryland taxpayers. The also get 3 meals a day, fitness equipment, cable, all the comforts of home. The average person works 5-7 days a week to put food on the table, and these criminals screw the law abiding citizens and their families. Some of the criminals sitting on death row thought nothing about taking a life and destroying family dreams. Now Zirkin who is a token of O'Malley wants to give these murders a chance at life at taxpayers expense. I wonder if something happened to a politicians family member if they would feel the same way. The death penalty should not be taken off the books.
Steve February 22, 2013 at 08:28 PM
"Criminals today have more rights than the average person...." Which rights do they have that we don't? It seems like being incarcerated they actually lose a couple of rights.
Brad February 22, 2013 at 08:41 PM
Don't do the crime, and you don't have to do the time, Stay out of trouble and keep your nose clean and live a life like many people do. Get on drugs, steal, rob, kill and you loose your rights. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, Thou shalt, not steal, Thou shalt not kill. People are taught at a very young age right form wrong. You screw up you pay the penalty, that's why we have laws, if we didn't, what kind of world would we live in?
Christopher Kidwell February 22, 2013 at 10:07 PM
Wayne, I have to say that you are dumb if you truly believe that. Wait until you have a cop yelling in your face saying "You did this, you did this!" and lying about evidence. They can make even someone who was 100 miles away from the scene of the crime at the time it was done start to think that they did it.
Christopher Kidwell February 22, 2013 at 10:09 PM
John L., the death penalty is too expensive for it to be levied against anyone in the real world. MILLIONS of dollars for a death penalty trial compared to THOUSANDS for a non-death penalty trial. Add into it the moral issues of dictating that someone has 'outlived their usefulness' on the planet and you see another issue. No, the death penalty is just not something we need anymore and in a prison cell, there is less than .01% chance that the person in question will kill again.
Christopher Kidwell February 22, 2013 at 10:12 PM
Roland, wake the hell up. We are not saying that it is okay to kill and rape, we are saying that NO ONE has the right to dictate that someone has outlived their usefulness on this planet and that if someone tries to, they WILL be punished. Putting someone in a maximum security prison for life is punishment enough and if you really think that is how prison goes, that bull that you spouted in your post? You have no freaking clue and have never even VISITED a prison.
Christopher Kidwell February 22, 2013 at 10:16 PM
Brad, there is no such person, place, thing, etc. as 'god' and too many of our laws are people trying to force their personal likes and dislikes, disguised as 'morality' on other people. Such as the drug laws, such as the sexual morality laws (anti-prostitution laws), etc. etc. etc. It's time to stop trying to dictate morality to people outside of about 5 things, listed now: 1. Do not kill unless it is your last choice to prevent your death or someone else's death. 2. Do not physically attack someone else unless it is your last choice to prevent someone else from being attacked or to defend yourself from an attack, unless you are in a sports arena where both sides know that they are going to be attacked. 3. Do not steal from someone else unless it is your last choice between you and death (this is a very liberal one from me, in all honesty). 4. Do not force someone to do or not do something that they do not or do wish to do, sexual or not and regardless of age or 'lack' of age, unless that person is breaking this rule themselves or putting someone else in imminent physical danger.
FIFA February 22, 2013 at 10:32 PM
Mr. Kidwell, I would change your number three slightly, if it means your family eating, I have some room there. Otherwise, I use this word very lightly, "amen".
FIFA February 22, 2013 at 10:32 PM
Psst, No. 5?
theadore mann February 22, 2013 at 10:38 PM
Well one less vote from me. No instead of the State saying to the guy that kills me "take the deal and you wont get the death penalty" now they will have to go to trial and all of the appeals. Or he can take the new deal and get out in 11 years. Yep thats good justice and public safety! We already made it so you had to be caught red handed, have dna link you, or a on tape confession to be eligible for the death penalty. This is just bad... No horrible public policy.
reasonedvoter February 23, 2013 at 02:41 AM
Right towsonjam. Or should I just call you toe jam for short? Zirkin addressed only the part that will continue to ride the teflon leprechan's coat tails. The real issue is now that the death penalty is dead, what of the cost for housing these disgusting criminals? Are they going down? By what amount? How much more does the Maryland taxpayer have to shell out now?
reasonedvoter February 23, 2013 at 02:43 AM
How does that logic work? If our "leaders" know the system is broken, why don't they fix it first?
Gburgatheist February 23, 2013 at 01:39 PM
@Roland, just like a god-botherer to care about life only until they are born.
DHAMMER February 24, 2013 at 03:07 AM
Zirkin should be made to look at every death picture of a murder victim who were killed by these ANIMALS ! thats right ! ANIMALS !!! And everytime a person is murdered, every Politician who voted to repeal should get a lg envelope of the persons death pictures and the family of the murdered victim should spray RED PAINT on their sidewalk as a reminder of what they did.They have made it open season on the innocent who they deny the right to defend themselves.
amark February 24, 2013 at 03:52 AM
The best arguement I heard anyone make was Sen Brochin about the plea deal. If the state seeks the death penalty now, it can offer the accused a plea bargain of life without parole. Now that is not possible and any plea will be what, life with parole? Or 20-30 years? That is a big mistake. I live in Zirkin's district and actually have voted for him as he ran unopposed. I'm guessing Owe'malley twisted his arm or promised him something in return for his vote.
moe green February 24, 2013 at 11:33 AM
keep an eye on bills that the weenie zirkin entered or any projects that he wants for his district. slimey, yo'malley will amply reward him for this cowardly act. the warren holuse murders occurred in PIKESVILLE, zirkins distrtict. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Grandison
Penelope Patch February 26, 2013 at 02:31 AM
I say put all of the criminals on an island and create an eco-system where they have to work very hard to live. They would be very busy being productive rather than sitting around figuring out how to murder another inmate or commit their next crime in the community while they are still in prison or when they get out. Another thought...our elected officials should all live near the prisons. Oh I forgot, NIMBY.
Steve February 26, 2013 at 03:32 AM
Was Zirkin in office then? "yo'malley"?? Did you think that up all by yourself? Wow! What rapier like wit!
Incredhulk February 26, 2013 at 06:32 AM
Moe Green equals an angry unintelligent loser behind a computer screen. Not really worthy of the godfather. And Darrelll. Same for you buddy.
Roland February 26, 2013 at 07:02 PM
@christopher kidwell, I am awake chris. That is why I am RIGHT and you are WRONG. It's people like you, without morals or common sense, that hold this country down!
Christopher Kidwell February 26, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Exactly right, MR6453. I don't believe in 'heaven' or 'hell', I'm an Atheist and I believe killing someone just sends them onto their next life on this planet without any punishment.
Christopher Kidwell February 26, 2013 at 11:14 PM
Roland, you are not awake in the slightest. I work in the criminal justice field as a paralegal and I have to go to the prisons on a regular basis to speak with these people. You have absolutely no idea how prison is today, it's not rainbows, chocolate and cotton candy.
Christopher Kidwell February 26, 2013 at 11:20 PM
There is an easy solution to that Brad: tell your Rethuglican overseers to get the hell out of the way and allow us to put into place a nationalized health insurance that covers all medically necessary treatments. The Rethuglicans are the ones who are keeping us from getting a U.K. style health care system into place. I have friends that live over in the U.K. and they LAUD the health care system over there, saying it's much easier to get treatments over there.
Roland February 28, 2013 at 02:29 AM
@christopher kidwell...Good! I'm Glad it's not. As prisoners they have no rights. And as long as they are proven Murderers and Rapists they should be put down as soon as possible. Of course as a paralegal I can imagine you want to keep that tax dollar flowing so you can bite off your share.....
Roland February 28, 2013 at 02:29 AM
@christopher kidwell...Good! I'm Glad it's not. As prisoners they have no rights. And as long as they are proven Murderers and Rapists they should be put down as soon as possible. Of course as a paralegal I can imagine you want to keep that tax dollar flowing so you can bite off your share.....
Mark Patro March 06, 2013 at 05:07 PM
Moments ago, Maryland's State Senate voted 27-20 to PASS legislation to end the death penalty!

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