April 18, 2020
Dear Death Penalty Abolitionists,
I hope this correspondence finds you and your families safe and healthy. We are all learning the importance of community and compassion in action. While my family is able to follow the recommendations to protect against the spread of the virus, we are keenly aware that many in our State are risking on a daily basis for the greater good. Let us honor their self-sacrifice by continuing our quest toward a State where capital punishment remains outside judicial recourse.
Congratulations to all who participated in the Death Penalty Educational Forum-Webinar on April 1, 2020. The panel members delivered clear and concise presentations to an engaged audience. Our gratitude to all the dedicated, talented and steadfast abolitionists who persevered resulting in a quality presentation. Thanks to all.
Given the fact that the legislative session has been suspended and we are uncertain when it reconvenes or what outstanding legislation will be considered, our specific strategy planning also remains ‘on hold’. For that reason, we are planning our next DCODP meeting on Monday, May 25 at 5:30 pm. This meeting will most likely be held on a virtual platform. The details and agenda will be sent to you as we get closer to the planned date.
At our next meeting I will be proposing that a campaign be developed with our partners for the purpose of amending the State Constitution to prohibit execution, as recently proposed by Representative Lynn and Senator Townsend in House Bill 305. Find details of House Bill 305 here. Click here for an article describing context.
I envision this being a virtual campaign aiming at public education. Since such a campaign would be launched outside the political fray the focus might clear partisan lines thus offering some relief to our legislative supporters. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions at any time.
My thoughts and good wishes to you all. Our community remains strong and vital and depends on your unwavering commitment and energy.
Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty
Today, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed SB20-100, repealing the death penalty in Colorado going forward. He also signed an Executive Order to commute the sentences of the three men on death row to life without the possibility of parole. He stated that the commutations were “consistent with the abolition of the death penalty in the State of Colorado, and consistent with the recognition that the death penalty cannot be, and never has been, administered equitably in the State of Colorado.” Click here for details in the Colorado Sun.
This legislation brings the total number of states without a death penalty to 25, 22 states that have abolished the death penalty by legislation or judicial proceeding, and three states that have a moratorium imposed by their Governor. Click here for details.
The death penalty continues to become more unusual in its use. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, as of January 15, 2020, “executions are rare or non-existent in most of the nation: the majority of states—33 out of 50—have either abolished the death penalty or have not carried out an execution in at least 10 years. An additional 6 states have not had an execution in at least 5 years, for a total of 39 states with no death penalty or no executions in that time.” Click here to see the details.
We cannot afford to delay action any longer. The Death Penalty legislation to be introduced this month will very likely pass the legislature and bring back this heinous punishment to Delaware. We CANNOT let this happen.
Fill out the form on this link and a volunteer will fill out a postcard on your behalf to send to your legislator. To know who your legislator is, we need your full address where you are registered to vote.
If you can join us for one of our postcard parties to hear about this issue and fill out your own postcard, you do not need to fill out this form. This is for only if you are unable to make it out for a postcard party.
Upcoming chances to fill out postcards in person:
ACLU-DE Guest Bartender Event: March 11th
Network Delaware/Urban League Building People Power Campaign Launch March 14th
Postcard Party: Newark March 16th 6:00 pm
Delaware United Trivia Night March 24th
Death Penalty In Delaware: An Educational and Action Based Forum April 1st
More dates to be added soon!
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.
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!
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