Last week the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill to replace the death penalty with life without the possibility of parole. The bill, which passed by an 82-56 margin, now goes to the desk of Governor Martin Oâ€™Malley, who has said he will sign it.
Maryland already severely limited death penalty to only violent crimes where one of three factors existed: DNA evidence, a videotaped confession or a videotaped murder. Opponents of the current bill used the restrictions as a reason why eliminating the death penalty was unnecessary. Baltimore County state attorney, Scott Shellenberger, told CNN that Marylandâ€™s capital punishment policy was â€œone of the most restrictive in the country.â€
However, that did not deter the passage of the bill eliminating the death penalty. Governor Oâ€™Malley lauded the bill saying, â€œTo govern is to choose, and at 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.â€
Maryland has only executed five people since 1976 and currently has five inmates on death row. Governor Oâ€™Malley will make case-by-case decisions about the five death row inmates. Maryland will become the sixth state to end the death penalty in as many years and the 17th jurisdiction in the nation.
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