ANNAPOLIS, MD - The Maryland General Assembly has approved a measure to ban capital punishment.
The House of Delegates voted 82 to 56 Friday to pass a bill already approved by the Senate.
That sends the bill to Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat who is expected to sign it. Maryland would become the 18th state to abolish the death penalty.
Supporters of repeal argue that capital punishment is costly, error-prone, racially biased and a poor deterrent. Opponents say it's a necessary tool to punish those who commit the most egregious crimes.
Maryland has five men on death row, though the measure approved Friday makes it clear the governor can commute their sentences to life in prison.
The state's last execution took place in 2005, during the administration of Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich.
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