(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) -- Maryland became the 18th state to abolish the death penalty on Thursday when Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the measure into law.
While the new law won't apply to the five people currently on death row in the state, O'Malley can commute those sentences to life without parole.
“Just as we have a responsibility to do more of the things that work to save lives, we have a responsibility to stop doing the things that are wasteful and that are ineffective,” said O’Malley.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President Ben Jealous echoed O’Malley’s sentiments.
“This profound waste of law enforcement dollars will be ended so that dollars can be focused on catching the killers who are still on the street,” he said.
The signing of the law was especially moving for Kirk Bloodsworth, who spent almost nine years on death row in Maryland before his conviction on rape and murder charges was overturned. Bloodsworth was the first American sentenced to death row who was exonerated by DNA evidence.
Maryland is the sixth state to abolish the death penalty since 2007. The last execution in Maryland happened in 2005.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio