Maryland Legislature Votes to End Death Penalty
Today the Maryland House voted 82-56 to repeal the state's death penalty. The measure, which is a top priority of Governor Martin O'Malley, was approved by the Senate last week.
Supporters of the death penalty are expected to petition the bill to a referendum in the 2014 election. Polls show that the death penalty is currently supported by a small majority of voters in the state.
There are five men on death row in Maryland, and the legislation does not affect them. According to the Baltimore Sun, their sentences could be commuted to life in prison without parole, or the state could simply decline to rewrite its rules for executions, which were invalidated by the courts seven years ago.
With the governor's signature, Maryland will be the 18th state to abolish the death penalty. Five other states - Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York - have done so in the last six years. An initiative to repeal the death penalty in California was defeated by voters 53-47% in the 2012 election.