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Posted at 1:24 PM ET, 02/10/2011

Md. death penalty regulations withdrawn

By John Wagner

Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration announced Thursday that it is withdrawing regulations needed to resume executions in Maryland, extending a four-year moratorium on the death penalty.

The move was prompted by a U.S. company's recent announcement that it would halt distribution of a drug used in lethal injections in Maryland and many others states.

Proposed regulations issued by the O'Malley (D) administration specifically call for the use of the drug, sodium thiopental.

"Many states are now in the process of reviewing and revising their protocols in light of this development," Corrections Secretary Gary D. Maynard wrote in a letter to leaders of a legislative committee that reviews regulations issued by the administration.

Maynard said the department would submit revised regulations but provided no time frame in the letter.

Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George's), co-chairman of the legislative review panel, said he expects a delay of at least six months.

There has been a moratorium on capital punishment in Maryland since December 2006, when the state's highest court ruled that new regulations were needed.

For the first three years of his tenure, O'Malley, who also opposes capital punishment, unsuccessfully lobbied the legislature to abolish the death penalty rather than resume its use. More recently, O'Malley has encouraged the review panel to act on the proposed regulations.

Shortages of the drug, made by Hospira of Lake Forest, Ill., have been an issue in some states that use it. And any supply still on hand in Maryland -- which last executed a prisoner in 2005 -- has since expired, according to a corrections department spokesperson.

There are five inmates on death row in Maryland.

By John Wagner  | February 10, 2011; 1:24 PM ET
Categories:  Crime and Public Safety, Maryland  
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