Maryland, which has not executed any one since 2005, is set to abolish the death penalty for good within days, becoming the 18th U.S. state to do so.

A bill proposed by Governor Martin O'Malley to end capital punishment passed the state senate Wednesday, and the measure is widely tipped to also clear the house of representatives, where Democrats, who favor the bill, have a large majority.

Maryland has had capital punishment in place since 1638, when it was still a British colony. Today, just five inmates remain on death row in the state that borders the U.S. capital, and their executions seem unlikely to take place. "Let's fight crime with strategies that work and end this expensive, ineffective and unfair practice," O'Malley said on Twitter, minutes after the vote.

For Kirk Bloodsworth of the anti-death penalty Witness to Innocence group, the Maryland repeal is a major win.

"Words can not describe my emotion right now. Fighting the death penalty has been really important to us, and this state in particular is obviously a very special one for me," he said.AFP