DCODP’s website offers information, news, events, and action alerts for the purpose of abolishing Delaware’s death penalty.
On Tuesday, 8/2/16, the Delaware Supreme Court issued their decision that Delaware’s death penalty statute is unconstitutional. Chief Justice Leo Strine, writing the majority opinion stated, “I join with a majority of my colleagues in concluding that Delaware‘s current death penalty statute conflicts with the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution.” The 6th amendment to the US Constitution says you are entitled to a fair jury. The interpretation by the US Supreme Court last Spring in Florida’s Hurst decision, and now by the Delaware Supreme Court, is that a jury, not a judge, must make the final determination in deciding who receives a death sentence.
To read the full decision, click: Rauf v State of DE Decision 080216
To read the News Journal article, click: Delaware’s Death Penalty Law Unconstitutional
Thanks belong to so many people who worked so hard toward this victory. Thanks to Chief Justice Leo Strine and the other Justices who so carefully considered the difficult questions related to the jury’s role in sentencing capital cases. Thank you to the sponsors of recent bills to repeal Delaware’s death penalty, Rep. Sean Lynn, Sen. Karen Peterson, and Rep. Darryl Scott. Thank you to Kathleen MacRae at the ACLU for transforming the landscape of death penalty repeal work. Thank you to the Delaware Repeal Project leadership, Jeremy Collins, Mona Cadena, Rev. Donald Morton, Rachel Livingston, and Sherry Dorsey-Walker. Thank to all the Delaware Repeal Project partners. Thank you to the DCODP leadership whose members have been working to end the death penalty since 1992 when Delaware’s death penalty was reinstated. Sally Milbury-Steen, Connie Kreshtool, John Beer, Kevin O’Connell, Barbara Lewis, and Anne Coleman were some of the original members who have been constant in their efforts. Thank you to Molly Keogh, the current Board President who has helmed the current Committee with wisdom and dedication. Thank you to Horace Knight with Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation. Thank you to Sandra Joy with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, who always recognizes the humanity in each person on death row and those who have been exonerated. Thank you to the many religious leaders who lead their flocks in the right direction. Thank you to all the legislators who took the time to examine the issue of the death penalty in all of its complexity. Thank you to Abraham Bonowitz who was instrumental in pulling important people and events together. Thank you to all the volunteers and those who used their time and energy to pave the way for this decision.
We remain mindful and respectful of the many families of murder victims who continue to grieve, the many individuals who remain wrongfully accused and convicted, and those still on death row and their families.
While we celebrate the decision, concerns remain. The Delaware Department of Justice may decide to challenge the decision. The Delaware General Assembly may choose to attempt to create a new death penalty statute. The Delaware death penalty has gone and then returned in the past. We will remain vigilant!
This Wednesday, June 15th at 9:30 am, the Delaware Supreme Court will hear final oral arguments in preparation for deciding whether Delaware’s death penalty violates federal Constitutional standards.
Join us as we gather at 9:30 am in silence on the Green across from the Delaware Supreme Court, 55 The Green, Dover, DE 19901.
If you want to sit inside to hear the arguments, plan to be there by 8:30am as there is limited seating inside. Anyone entering the courthouse is asked to refrain from wearing pins, t-shirts, or other insignia related to their position on the death penalty.
If you cannot attend, you can follow the events on DE Supreme Court livestream video.
For further information on the arguments, go to DE Supreme Court Oral Arguments Rauf v State.
Today we announce the end of legislative action on SB40 but it is far from the end of this work to repeal the death penalty in Delaware! Sen. Karen Peterson and Rep. Sean Lynn, the prime sponsors of the bill, have decided to suspend further legislative action on the bill due to the robust constitutional review of Delaware’s capital punishment statute by the Delaware Supreme Court. Sen. Peterson and Rep. Lynn said the following:
“The U.S. Supreme Court has put the legitimacy of Delaware’s death penalty statute into question with its decision in Hurst v. Florida. Superior Court President Judge Jan Jurden has issued a temporary stay of all capital murder trials and executions. It only makes sense for the General Assembly to wait for the Delaware high court to rule before we decide on further action.” – Sen. Karen Peterson
“The prudent course of action at this point is to wait and see what the court decides.” – Rep. Sean Lynn
We are thrilled that the DE Supreme Court will be weighing the constitutionality of our death penalty and will continue to watch the court proceedings but as organizers we know, that working for justice is a year round endeavor not limited to the court room and the legislative process.
We will continue to educate the public put pressure on our legislators. Please continue to join us for “Moral Witness Wednesday” this Wednesday at 4:30pm. We will meet at a nearby church and walk over to Legislative Hall: Wesley United Methodist Church (Parking Lot, E. North st. Entrance), 209 S. State St., Dover, DE
Sen. Karen Peterson, D-Stanton, and Rep. Sean Lynn, D-Dover, are suspending further legislative action on Senate Bill 40 – the death penalty repeal bill – due to the constitutional review of Delaware’s capital punishment statute by the Delaware Supreme Court.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has put the legitimacy of Delaware’s death penalty statute into question with its decision in Hurst v. Florida and Superior Court President Judge Jan Jurden has issued a temporary stay of all capital murder trials and executions,” Peterson said. “It only makes sense for the General Assembly to wait for the Delaware high court to rule before we decide on further action.”
To read the full article, click here.
On January 28, 2016, the Delaware House of Representatives voted against Senate Bill 40 16-23-2.
Rep. Kim Williams’ NO vote was part of a procedural strategy to allow the bill to remain alive this session for a future vote.
Thank you to all those who showed courage and leadership in supporting this smart-on-crime bill.
Do not lose heart. Every time the issue is discussed, more light is shone on the issue. Abolition is coming. Please continue to contact your legislators on this important issue!
Starting Monday, February 8, 2016 there will be a march/rally from 11:00 a.m.to 1:00 p.m. in Dover. We will move as a group around Legislative Hall. We will carry signs and have some singing and chanting. The purpose of this action is to get the attention of state lawmakers and the public. This action is planned for each Monday in February. Meet in the parking lot on the east side of legislative hall Wear your Repeal buttons. Bring signs and lots of enthusiasm.