Maryland poised to ban death penalty

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The General Assembly in Maryland is poised to pass a bill banning capital punishment in the state. Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley is behind the push and will certainly sign the bill into law once it hits his desk, The Associated Press reports.

Maryland has five prisoners on death row right now. The bill, if passed, would not necessarily apply to them — but the governor could use the law to change their sentences to life in prison without parole if he so chose, AP reports.

Opponents of the bill say abolishing the death penalty is flawed policy as it takes away an important punishment tool for the worst offenders. But supporters of the ban say capital punishment is racially biased and too expensive. And the chance of putting to death an innocent person is too tough to stomach, they argue, AP reports.

The state’s last execution was in 2005. If the new bill passes, Maryland will be the 18th state in the nation to abolish capital punishment, AP says.

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