The Death Penalty: Marvin vs. Martin…

No, I am not talking about Warner Brother’s Marvin the Martian, but yesterday’s hearing about the possible demise of the death penalty in Maryland did have me wondering. Just who would a (CASA-supported?) alien meet if he asked us to take him to our leader? Would it be Martin O’Malley, or Marvin Mandel?

Governor O’Malley got loads of press yesterday for his testimony in favor of sending the death penalty to the gas chamber, but another Governor testified in favor of keeping it as a final sanction against the most vermin-like murderers in our midst. His story needs telling as well.

After Martin asked us to not care about retribution or fairness to victims, Marvin talked about the need for the final option to remain a tool for Justice. The Ex-Governor recounted going to the jail when prisoners had taken over and threatened the life of the guards in the tower. Against the wishes of others, he went to talk to the prisoners. I say talk, not to merely “hear them out”. He gave them 3 minutes, they started with their demands, and he told them they had only 2 left. He would release the dogs on them if they did not free the guards. Now note that this was during a time when the Supreme Court had ruled against the Death Penalty, before we reinstated a court-approved version of it. The prisoners asked why should they care about killing the guards, they were already sentenced to death. The no-nonsense Governor at the time said if they killed the guards he would call a special session the next day and pass a death penalty law just for them. They let the guards go. Years later Mandel would meet a man who had been trying to see him, to thank him for saving his grandfather, a guard in that tower.

Another instance that Governor Marvin Mandel recounted was seeing a prisoner in his cell, who complained that they never let him out, even for exercise. Mandel talked to the Warden, who informed him that the prisoner was not allowed out because he would kill the first person he got hold of. Gov. Marvin went back to the cell, staying further away from the inmate this time, and asked the prisoner if this was true. The prisoner acknowledged that yes, he would kill the first person he could.

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Former Governor Mandel also talked about a Judge he appointed who was against the death penalty. The Judge changed his tune when he had a case that was very horrific.

Say what you want about Marvin Mandel’s history, but in this case I wish he were still maintaining an office on the second floor of the State House. On this issue, he is more a leader than Marty, who is evidently both afraid to sign a death warrant, and also afraid to not kill those on death row. You see, if the current Governor doesn’t carry out his duty he may get blamed if they kill again. Doing away with the death penalty, he can blame it on the legislature if an inmate kills a guard, or another prisoner, or if they escape to murder the public. Abolishing the death penalty is the easy way out for him, but have we ever known him to really do the hard things his job requires? Take me to your leader… indeed!


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