I'd decided not to write about Maryland abolishing the death penalty until it actually does.
Despite all the hype and media coverage and announcements that it's done now that both houses of the legislature have passed the bill and the governor has promised to sign it (hell, he pushed it - hard), it ain't over 'til it's over. The fat lady hasn't yet sung. The countdown continues. Pick your own cliché. The fact is that Maryland has the death penalty and will have it until Governor O'Malley signs the bill into law. (And until it takes effect. I don't know whether there's a waiting period between signing and effective date in Maryland.) It might be a foregone conclusion, but I'm a cynic. And cautious.
As I said, I wasn't going to write about Maryland until it was done. But then The First State (Delaware) came along, held hearings, and on Tuesday the state Senate by an 11-10 politically fragmented vote (5 dems and 5 republicans against; 3 republicans for) for abolition. Well, abolition light; they specifically amended the bill to allow the 17 folks currently on death row there to be killed. And it's far from clear that the bill will go any further. Still.
Delaware's actually an interesting case for abolition. In at least one respect it's closer to Texas than to - well, almost anywhere but Oklahoma. For a long time Delaware led the country in executions per capita. (The latest numbers I've seen have it solidly entrenched in third place, behind number one Oklahoma and Texas, but they're a couple of years out of date, and I'm not about to do the math to figure out today's standings.) So when Delaware moves toward abolition that's something to note.
Still, I was going to wait. Let's see what happens, I thought. Let it all play itself out. The time to cheer is when it's done.* Until then, it's still time to work.
As Maryland moves forward and Delaware maybe moves forward with an end to killing in sight, we here in Ohio ("the Heart of It All" per the tourism slogan) look at the future and plan another.
His name is Alva Earl Campbell, Jr. and this morning the Supreme Court of Ohio, in its majesty, decided (6-1, O'Neill, as has become his practice, dissenting) that he should be put to death on July 15, 2015.
If you're counting, he's currently number 13 on our execution list.
*There was much hope that Colorado will quickly follow Maryland, but on Tuesday a House committee there killed it's abolition bill after the Governor suggested a likely veto.