Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore testifies in support of the repeal of Maryland's death penalty during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee in Annapolis, Md., Feb. 14.
Catholic News Service
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, signed a bill that repeals capital punishment.
In Baltimore, Maryland’s largest city, the interior and exterior lights of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary were to be lit at dusk that evening, and remain illuminated overnight, in honor of the repeal.
Maryland became the 18th state, and the first south of the Mason-Dixon Line, to abolish the death penalty. The others are Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The District of Columbia also bans capital punishment.
Six states have banished the use of the death penalty in the 21st century. Maryland joins Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York with that distinction. The last state to legalize capital punishment was New York in 1995.
The new law may be the subject of a petition drive to repeal it at the ballot box. If enough valid signatures are gathered, the law will not be put into effect until the referendum takes place, no earlier than the November 2014 election.