Maryland Legislature Votes to End Death Penalty

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 O’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 Maryland’s capital punishment policy was “one of the most restrictive in the country.”

However, that did not deter the passage of the bill eliminating the death penalty. Governor O’Malley lauded the bill saying, “To 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.”

Maryland has only executed five people since 1976 and currently has five inmates on death row. Governor O’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.

Read more here.

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