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It is with a heavy heart that I am telling you that Mary Starkweather-White, who was tireless in her efforts to end the death penalty in Delaware and who as our Secretary kept exemplary minutes of each Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty meeting from April 1992 through our June 24, 2019 meeting, passed away this Tuesday at around 2 am after experiencing shortness of breath.
It is very difficult for those of us who worked to end the death penalty and who depended upon her minutes, as well as her volunteerism, service, generosity, goodwill, and humor, to wrap our heads and hearts around the depth of her loss. She was truly remarkable in all that she did for returning citizens through Moving Forward, the Pardons Project, New Beginnings Next Step and through programs such the art project that she initiated at Baylor Women’s Prison. Mary was truly the Saint of Second Chances. Along with Bryan Stevenson, one of her heroes, she believed that each of us is more than the worst thing that we have ever done. She turned this conviction into life-changing opportunity, acceptance, and encouragement to each person whose life she touched. Those of us who knew her are and will continue to be deeply blessed.
She was a peacemaker, a doer of good deeds, deeply generous, and a dear friend to many. Her heart was limitless in its goodness and our memories of her friendship and of her quiet, but endless service, will continue to give us the energy to carry on in her spirit now.
Mary was born on October 18, 1951 and died on July 9, 2019. We will never find another secretary as fine as she was. Mary is survived by her husband Earl White, 316 N. Ogle Avenue, Wilmington, DE 19805
Thank you, Mary. May you rest in peace.
After taking a moment to bask in the good news of New Hampshire’s repeal of the death penalty last week, in Delaware we must face the possibility of legislators reinstating the death penalty. Misnamed the Extreme Crimes Protection Act, House Bill 165 purports to correct the parts of the statute that caused the Delaware Supreme Court to declare the death penalty statute unconstitutional in August, 2016. While the new bill requires juries to make unanimous recommendations and restricts judges from overriding jury recommendations, it does nothing to reduce the other flaws in the application of Delaware’s death penalty. The new bill does nothing to address the racial bias, the harm to victims’ family members, the waste of taxpayer dollars, and the risk of executing an innocent person. The new bill does nothing to address the secondary trauma to jurors, attorneys, corrections officers, and others involved in trials, sentencing, and executions. The new bill fails to address the fact that the administration of Delaware’s death penalty was ineffective and had high rates of error. It fails to acknowledge that the death penalty remains ineffective in improving safety for the public, law enforcement, and public safety officials. The only accurate thing about the name is that if the bill succeeds, it will protect the extreme crime of the state executing its own citizens. Delawareans, please contact your legislators and urge them to oppose House Bill 165.
To see the text of the bill, click on House Bill 165.
To see more about why the death penalty is wrong for Delaware, click here.
To find your legislators’ contact information, go to Who is My Legislator? and enter your address.
To write a letter to the editor, click here.
Join members of Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty at a planning meeting on Monday, May 27, at 5:30 pm at Wilmington Friends Meeting House, Fourth and West Streets, Wilmington, DE 19801. We realize that it is Memorial Day evening, but trying to keep the Delaware General Assembly from reinstating the death penalty never takes a holiday. We will be discussing House Bill 165, recently introduced and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. Please come if you can and bring a friend. To see the text and sponsors of House Bill 165, click here.
Delaware legislators have introduced House Bill 165 to try to reinstate the death penalty. Please call your legislators as well as members of the House Judiciary Committee and urge them to vote “NO” on this bill. Thank you!
House Judiciary Committee:
Sean M. Lynn, Chair 302-744-4114
Krista Griffith, Vice-Chair 302-744-4351
Franklin D. Cooke 302-744-4351
William Bush 302-744-4351
Gerald L. Brady 302-744-4114
Sherry Dorsey Walker 302-744-4351
John L. Mitchell 302-744-4114
Ronald E. Gray 302-744-4171
Stephen Smyk 302-744-4114
Jeffrey N. Spiegelman 302-744-4114
Jesse R. Vanderwende 302-744-4267
After almost three years without the death penalty since the Delaware Supreme Court declared the Delaware statute unconstitutional in 2016, several lawmakers are proposing again to reinstate the death penalty [link to article]. Please call your state legislators and urge them to oppose the death penalty reinstatement bill (bill number not yet assigned). To locate your legislators’ contact information, go to Who Is My Legislator? on the Delaware General Assembly website.
Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, has closed the loophole in the Catholic Catechism that allowed for the death penalty in rare cases.
In his letter released on August 2, 2018, he stated that the death penalty “”is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”, and stating that the church works “for its abolition worldwide.””
The change demonstrates “increasing awareness that the dignity of the person was not lost even after “the commission of very serious crimes”.”
Click on the attached links for further information: