The Maryland Senate voted to repeal the state’s death penalty this morning, passing a bill sponsored by Gov. Martin O’Malley, which will now go to the Maryland House of Delegates. If it passes, Maryland could become the sixth state in as many years to abolish the death penalty, and one of 18 states without capital punishment on the books.
The Washington Post
O’Malley’s bill would replace death sentences with life in prison without the possibility of parole. It would not affect the five inmates currently on death row in Maryland, leaving it to the governor to determine whether to commute their sentences.
O’Malley has been an outspoken advocate for repeal since taking office in 2007. Prior to this year, he last sponsored a bill to do that in 2009. That measure was rejected by the Senate, with members choosing instead to tighten evidentiary standards in capital cases.
Since then, several new members have been elected, and a couple of senators have changed their positions, creating a majority of supporters for the first time.
Maryland is also home to the nation’s first death row DNA exoneree,
, whose advocacy for the abolition of the death penalty has helped focus the debate on the danger of executing an innocent person. Bloodsworth watched today’s debate from the Senate gallery.
Of the 303 DNA exoneration cases nationwide, 18 served time on death row.
Read more about their cases
Send a message of support to Gov. O’Malley
recent New York Times profile about Bloodsworth and his fight to end capital punishment in his state