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Maryland becomes latest U.S. state to abolish death penalty

May 02, 2013|Ian Simpson | Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Maryland became the 18th U.S. state to abolish the death penalty on Thursday when Governor Martin O’Malley signed a bill outlawing capital punishment in the state. O’Malley, a Democrat mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2016, had pledged to sign the bill, which the Democrat-controlled legislature passed in March. The law replaces capital punishment with a sentence of life without parole.

“With the legislation signed today, Maryland has effectively eliminated a policy that is proven not to work,” O’Malley’s office said in a statement.

The governor’s office said the death penalty does not deter crime, cannot be administered without racial bias and costs three times as much as life without parole. A mistake cannot be reversed if an innocent person is put to death, the statement added.

Five other states – Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico, New York and New Jersey – have repealed capital punishment since 2007, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

“That’s six states in six years,” said Richard Dieter, the Center’s executive director.

Since Maryland reinstated the death penalty in 1978, 58 people have been sentenced to death in the state, but only five sentences have been carried out. Maryland has five men on death row, and its last execution took place in 2005.

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