Lawmakers approved a measure Friday that would end the death penalty in Maryland and sent the bill to Gov. Martin O’Malley, a long-time supporter of abolishing capital punishment in the state.
The House measure, which had passed the Senate earlier this month, passed with a 82-56 vote Friday. The governor has tried to repeal the death penalty before and has argued that the death penalty is both expensive and does not work well. He helped reintroduce the legislation in January and has said he will sign the bill into law.
Assuming the governor signs the bill, Maryland will become the 18th state to abolish the death penalty and the sixth to do so since 2007. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, prior to 2007, no legislature had abolished the death penalty since the 60s. Maryland will join Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York in banning capital punishment.
Maryland had reinstated the death penalty in the mid 70s and since then only five sentences were carried out. The last execution in Maryland occurred in 2005 and the change would not affect the five people awaiting death currently on death row in the state.
Currently a defendant cannot receive a death sentence for a felony where he/she was not responsible for the murder. One person has been freed from death row after being proved innocent and two clemencies were granted. The death penalty is not a sentencing option in Washington D.C., but remains an option in Virginia where 110 people have been executed since the death penalty was reenacted.