Maryland Abolishes Death Penalty, Becomes First State South Of the Mason-Dixon Line to Do So

On Wednesday, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (D) signed into law the repeal of the death penalty. This move makes Maryland the 18th state in the nation to abolish capital punishment, and the first nation south of the Mason-Dixon line to do so.

Support for the death penalty in Maryland has fallen considerably in recent years. In 2011, 56% of Marylanders supported it, but in a recent study, support sharply declined to just 49% in support with 44% in opposition. When those polled were asked if life without the possibility of parole could be a viable substitute to a death sentence, 61% of respondents answered yes. 

Repeal of the death penalty also serves as a huge win for O'Malley who is considering seeking the presidency in 2016.

The law could still be challenged via referendum.