A year after New Jersey became the first state in a generation to repeal the death penalty, capital punishment opponents in Maryland and New Mexico say their states could be next, reports Stateline.org. A Maryland commission that has been studying the issue will recommend to Gov. Martin O'Malley that capital punishment be eliminated. The commission voted 13-7 in November after finding that the death penalty is applied unfairly and costs more than life imprisonment.
In New Mexico, a repeal bill failed narrowly in the Senate after it passed the House of Representatives in 2007. President-elect Barack Obama's selection of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as his commerce secretary that could have even bigger implications. Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, who would take over, is viewed as more sympathetic to a repeal than the outgoing governor. Recent repeal efforts around the U.S. have focused increasingly on its costs, a lobbying tactic that could prove more effective as states address a fiscal crisis in their next legislative sessions. While legislation to repeal the death penalty has made progress in several states — even in traditionally conservative areas such as Montana and Nebraska — supporters of capital punishment say a bill's relative success in past years does not guarantee it will be popular in the future.