Maryland step closer to abolishing death penalty
ANNAPOLIS — Maryland lawmakers approved a measure abolishing the death penalty on Friday, and the bill is expected to be signed by the Democratic governor who has long pushed for banning capital punishment in the state.
If the measure is signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley, it will make Maryland the 18th state in the nation to do away with the death penalty.
A repeal bill won final passage from the House of Delegates on Friday. It has been approved by the Senate.
The House advanced the legislation this week after delegates rejected nearly 20 amendments, mostly from Republicans, aimed at keeping capital punishment for the most heinous crimes.
If passed, life without the possibility of parole would become the most severe sentence in the state.
Supporters of repeal argue that the death penalty is costly, error-prone, racially biased and a poor deterrent of crime. But opponents say it is a necessary tool to punish lawbreakers who commit the most egregious crimes.
Maryland has five men on death row. The measure would not apply to them retroactively, but the legislation makes clear that the governor can commute their sentences to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The state's last execution occurred in 2005, during the administration of Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
- Wreckage of sunken WWII U-boat found off N.C. coast
- Expert: Stress level rises for Americans who forfeit vacation
- 5 airports to handle all U.S.-bound travelers from Ebola-stricken nations
- Accused head of violent Mexican cartel nabbed
- American free of virus
- Maryland man set for trial in killing erroneously released
- North Korea releases Ohio man detained for 6 months
- Justice Department revamps cyber teams
- Archaeologists sift through Everglades muck for history
- Ex-NSA chief drops deal with former aide to avoid appearance of conflict
- Wrongful imprisonment case ends in guilty plea