The Wilmington News Journal reports, "Death penalty repeal revs up as police groups voice opposition," by Jonathan Starkey.
Lawmakers returning to Dover today will consider repealing Delaware’s death penalty, overturning all 17 current death row sentences and substituting life without parole.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Sen. Karen Peterson, D-Stanton, is teaming with the American Civil Liberties Union to push the repeal effort. A rally is planned today at Legislative Hall in support of the bill.
Senate Minority Leader Gary Simpson, a Milford Republican, also is backing the bill. But significant opposition is expected from the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council and the Delaware State Troopers Association, which say those convicted of killing police officers should face capital punishment.
Gov. Jack Markell would not take a position on the bill when asked recently, unlike his Democratic counterpart in Maryland, Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has lent strong support to the repeal effort in his state.
“I have an open mind,” Markell said.
Since 1992, the state has executed 16 convicted killers, all but one by lethal injection. Billy Bailey, who was convicted of killing an elderly couple in Cheswold, chose to be hanged in January 1996. The latest put to death was Shannon Johnson, who was executed last April for killing Cameron Hamlin in 2006.
Seventeen convicted killers sitting on Delaware’s death row, some with convictions dating back more than a decade, would see their sentences commuted if the bill were to pass. They instead would face life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
"New bill would repeal Delaware's death penalty," is the WHYY-FM report by Mark Eichmann. There is video at the link.
Death penalty opponents rally at Legislative Hall in Dover in support of a bill that would get rid of capital punishment in Delaware.
State Senator Karen Peterson is the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 19, which would overturn Delaware's death penalty. "If there were any other public policy that was so expensive, so time-consuming, so discriminatory, so arbitrary, and served no purpose other than vengeance, we would repeal it in a heartbeat," said the Democrat who represents the Stanton area.
Peterson says the death penalty has been unfairly applied to poor minorities who can't afford good enough lawyers. "We know that rich people don't get executed. But the poor, the mentally ill, the drug addicted and people of color do."
The bill also has support from some Republicans including Senator Gary Simpson. The Senate Minority Leader who represents Milford is also a sponsor of the bill. He says nationwide, for every nine inmates executed, one is exonerated. "If we say that we’ve killed one innocent person out of 100, that’s one too many for me, but one out of nine is just horrendous in my view."