Maryland is poised to become the 18th state to abolish capital punishment, reports the Associated Press. Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, is pushing for the change. A repeal bill has already been approved by the state Senate and it was expected to win final passage from the House of Delegates on Friday. 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.
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 took place in 2005.