PIKESVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — There’s a renewed effort to do away with the death penalty in Maryland. Groups pushing for a repeal join forces as lawmakers get ready to take up the issue at this winter’s General Assembly.

Kai Jackson has more from both sides of this polarizing issue.

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Some lawmakers and activists plan to make another push to repeal the death penalty in 2012.

The murder of a loved one and the execution of the murderer makes the debate of the death penalty a perpetually controversial issue.

“When we have other punishment options available to government, we should not resort to the death penalty,” said one woman.

At Beth El congregation in Pikesville, death penalty opponents gathered to remember and honor Rabbi Mark Loeb. He was a member of the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment and he helped lead the fight to abolish it before he died in 2009.

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“We loved Rabbi Loeb. He was such an anchor to the whole team on that commission. There was not a person who didn’t see his big heart and his beautiful soul,” said Vicki Schieber.

Schieber’s daughter Shannon was 23 when she was raped and murdered in 2009 while a graduate student in Philadelphia. Schieber opposes the death penalty.

Kirk Bloodsworth has spoken across the country trying to abolish the death penalty. The Maryland native was the first person in the country to be exonerated for a rape and murder based on DNA evidence.

“He was a teacher and a good friend and a very larger than life human being,” Bloodsworth said.

Despite opponents’ efforts, death penalty supporters plan to fight efforts to abolish it.

“I will vote against any attempt to reduce capital punishment. We already have destroyed so much of it,” said Delegate Pat McDonough.

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The 2012 Maryland legislative session starts next month.