Delaware State Rep. Darryl Scott, House sponsor of SB19 to repeal Delaware’s death penalty, responds to the Delaware Supreme Court’s reversal of Jermaine Wright’s conviction and death sentence.
I issued the following statement today in response to Monday’s decision by the Delaware Supreme Court to reverse the murder conviction and death sentence of Jermaine M. Wright.
This decision from the Delaware Supreme Court highlights an important flaw in our criminal justice system, one even the best systems possess: No criminal justice system is perfect. No criminal justice system is infallible. It is possible, even in cases that receive as much scrutiny and have the highest burden of proof, that mistakes can be made.
We must remember that justice does not only mean convicting those who are guilty, but also acquitting the innocent and ensuring that all receive a fair trial. If we cannot guarantee that, how can we take a person’s life?
Since we introduced Senate Bill 19 last year, opponents have said that we do not need to repeal the death penalty in Delaware in part because we do not have the problems other states have had and we haven’t exonerated a man sentenced to death row like Maryland. Now we have evidence that a Delaware jury convicted and a judge sentenced Jermaine Wright to death in a case where the prosecution withheld evidence that would have had a material impact on the outcome of the trial. Had the Supreme Court not reversed Wright’s conviction, Delaware might very well have sent a man unfairly convicted to his death.
When do we as a society have enough evidence that this is an inherently flawed system? When we actually execute an innocent person? Smart government is legislating to prevent tragedies like this, not waiting for one to happen and then passing a law to fix it. We have an opportunity to prevent this type of error from ever occurring again by bringing SB 19 to the House floor for a vote to repeal the death penalty.