The Maryland Senate passed a bill Wednesday, by a vote of 27-20, that would repeal the state’s death penalty, substituting a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
The Senate bill was introduced by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. at the request of Gov. Martin O’Malley — a longtime critic of the death penalty. State Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D–Baltimore County) provided a key vote this year to get the bill out of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
The state has not executed anyone since 2005 when Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. held office.
According to The Washington Post, Maryland would become the 18th state, and sixth in six years, to end the death penalty if Gov. O'Malley eventually signs the repeal into law.
The Senate death penalty repeal was sponsored by, among others, Baltimore City Senators Lisa A. Gladden, Joan Carter Conway, Bill Ferguson, Verna L. Jones-Rodwell, Nathaniel J. McFadden, Catherine E. Pugh and Baltimore County Senator Delores G. Kellley.
A recent Washington Post poll found that while 60 percent of Marylanders support keeping the death penalty, and even larger majority, nearly 2-1, said they do not believe the death penalty is a deterrent to murder or lowers the crime rate.