DCODP Strategy Meeting Mon Feb 24th at 5:30 p.m.

Join us as we strategize against the two bills proposing to reinstate the death penalty and in favor of the proposed change to the Delaware Constitution that will abolish the death penalty. Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty will meet on Monday, February 24, from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm in the Social Room at the Wilmington Friends Meeting, 401 N. West Street, Wilmington, DE 19801. The entrance faces West Street. Ring the bell and someone will let you in. All are welcome.

Delaware state legislators prepare another attempt to reinstate the death penalty

The Delaware House of Representatives sent out an email on January 30, 2020, describing some members’ latest plan to attempt to reinstate the death penalty. The new bill, called The Egregious Crimes Accountability Act, claims to resolve the flaws that caused the Delaware Supreme Court to declare the death penalty statute unconstitutional in 2016. It also claims to “streamline” aggravating factors.

Do not be fooled. The image of the statue of blind justice that heads the video accompanying the email is a slap in the face to anyone who cares about racial justice. The new bill has made no attempt to change the extreme racial bias in the administration of the death penalty in Delaware. Indeed, some of these same legislators, in a 2016 letter responding to the death penalty being declared unconstitutional, stated that “We realize there are lingering questions about the equity of its application, but that is a separate issue.” It is not a separate issue to those who are likely to be caught in its snare or to any of us who care about the issues of equality before the law. In addition to racial bias, the new bill does nothing to correct for flaws related to wasteful spending, risk of executing an innocent, harm to victims’ family members, ineffectiveness, and failure to improve either public safety or the safety of law enforcement officers.

We urge you to contact your state legislators and urge them to oppose any efforts to reinstate Delaware’s death penalty. For talking points, click here. To find your legislators, go to Who Is My Legislator? at the top right of the Delaware General Assembly website and enter your address. Thank you!

Sad News

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.

Sally Milbury-Steen

While New Hampshire repeals, Delaware seeks to reinstate death penalty

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.

ACTION ALERT: Planning Meeting

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.