With a vote today in the House of Delegates, Maryland's General Assembly has approved a bill that abolishes the death penalty in the state.
If signed into law by Gov. Martin O'Malley, which is expected, Maryland will become the 18th state to end capital punishment.
The Baltimore Sun reports:
"The 82-56 vote came after an impassioned debate. The legislation cleared the state Senate last week 27-20.
"'Today's historic vote is a long time coming,' said Del. Heather Mizeur, echoing arguments that the death penalty has not been used fairly nor without mistake in Maryland's history. 'Who are we to be the judges?' the Montgomery County Democrat asked. 'Extinguishing a light, no matter how dim, is never the path to illumination.'"
"The bill was sponsored by Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat."
The Washington Post reports prisoners on death row will now face life terms. The paper adds:
"Friday's vote was hailed by the NAACP and Catholic Church, two organizations whose vocal support helped build momentum in recent weeks.
"Maryland voters could still get the final say on the measure, however. A provision in the state constitution allows citizens to petition recently passed laws to the ballot, as happened with same-sex marriage legislation last year."