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Opponents Say Md. Death Penalty Doesn't Help Victims' Families

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—Calls to repeal the Maryland death penalty are met with opposition...again. Lawmakers in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee are hearing testimony on capital punishment.

As Pat Warren reports, this year's debate focuses on victims' families.

The movie "Dead Man Walking" is based on the personal experience of Sister Helen Prejean, whose relationship with a death row inmate brings her to Maryland to lobby for repeal.

This year's bill in the Senate would spend state resources on recovery for victims' families rather than executions.

"The death penalty doesn't help victims' families. First of all, it's so few of them and you never do it. So what it does then is release that energy of that money into healing help for victims' families," said Prejean, advocate for repeal.

Martin Price, whose father killed two of his family members, is among those testifying in favor of repealing the death penalty.

"If anyone felt that someone deserved the death penalty it was me," Price said.

Price changed his mind, but others haven't.

"You need to have the ultimate punishment available when people commit the ultimate crime," said Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger.

He is among those who support the death penalty, particularly since new restrictions limit the use of it.

"That should have convinced everyone that we have a restrictive statute. We're very careful in how we use it, and therefore I'm down here today to say don't change anything," Shellenberger said.

A bill for repeal is also in the House, but, as always, the real hurdle is the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

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