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Death Penalty Repeal Press Conference

Location: Annapolis, MD

Thank you all. Thank you so very, very much for all of your hard work on this important issue that says so much about us, and an issue that many states have not yet been able to face full on with the sort of truth and the sort of understanding that the people of Maryland and the people of this General Assembly have fought for this issue.

So there are so many of you have worked hard on this issue, and there are so many people who have lost so very much that you've had to transform through this issue. And it is with a great deal of humility that I say "thank you" to all those who have worked so hard to accomplish this.

I want to thank Senator Lisa Gladden, Senator Jamie Raskin, Delegate Sandy Rosenberg, and Delegate Aisha Braveboy. I also want to thank County Executive Rushern Baker and his wife. You will hear shortly from Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. We also hear from the President of the biggest, baddest civil rights organization, the NAACP, Ben Jealous. And also Gerald Stansbury.

My friends, my neighbors, and my fellow citizens, to govern is to choose. And in a time where we understand the things that actually work to reduce violent crime,… when we understand how lives can be saved, we have a moral responsibility to do more of the things that work to save lives. And we also have a moral responsibility to stop doing the things that are wasteful, and that are expensive, and that do not work, and that do not save lives, and that I would argue run contrary to the deeper principles that unite us as Marylanders, as Americans, and as human beings.

Today, the Maryland General Assembly voted to repeal the death penalty in Maryland. And in so doing, we just released Maryland from the ranks of other places in this world -- including Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and others -- that still do commit public executions.

I want to thank so many people that did a lot of hard work all through this time. I want to thank those that served on the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment, led by Benjamin Civiletti, some 40 years ago. That dialogue and that work and that understanding, and that ability to bring people together, so that all of us could talk openly and honestly and confront our fears, and also confront the truths that unite us,… was also a big part of what enabled us to get to this point.

So, moving forward, we have to make sure that we build on this progress by doing more of the things that work: the digital fingerprinting, the DNA technology, the better and smarter things in law enforcement that we can do to save lives.

Because in our State, we understand that there is no such thing as a spare American. Every single life is needed, and every single life is important. So let's continue to do more of the things that work, and thereby really do right by those who have gone before us,… those who have lost their lives to violent deaths,… that we remember their lives, and that we honor them -- not by taking life, but by saving life.

Thank you.

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