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.

ACTION ALERT: Urge legislators to oppose HB 165, death penalty reinstatement bill.

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

Bill proposed to reinstate death penalty

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.

House Bill 125 Reinstatement Bill died at end of 149th General Assembly

House Bill 125, the bill proposing to reinstate Delaware’s death penalty statute, died in June 2018 at the end of the Delaware General Assembly’s 149th Legislative Session. The House had passed HB 125, but the bill remained in the Senate Judiciary Committee when the session ended. The next two year General Assembly Session, General Assembly 150, will begin in January 2019. Any legislation related to the death penalty in Delaware would have to be introduced as a brand new bill.

Thank you to all who worked so hard to keep Delaware free of the death penalty!

CALL TO ACTION: Join the Resistance to HB 125 in Dover on Tuesday, May 9th.

Greetings all Death Penalty Abolitionists in the State of Delaware:

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017 you are needed at Legislative Hall, 411 Legislative Ave, Dover DE. House Bill 125 will be brought before the full House for a vote. Our purpose on Tuesday is to present a massive presence in the halls, offices of legislators and in the General Assembly chamber.

There will be no testimony from the public. Please call your Representative.

Please be in attendance in the building wearing either “red” or buttons or other ways to message that you are opposed to reinstatement of the death penalty. Make every attempt to meet with your Representative. Posters and signs are not permitted in the building. Bring photo i.d., which you will need to get in.

Most of these sessions start around 1:00 pm. but no exact time has been announced. If we hear something more specific we will post.

It was obvious that the House Judiciary Committee had no interest in the public testimony last Wednesday.

This is an opportunity for the OPPOSITION to be noticed.

With much gratitude for your ongoing efforts and support.

Molly Keogh
Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty

House Bill 125 voted out of committee. Scheduled to be heard by full House Thursday, May 4th

The outcome of the House Judiciary Committee Hearing on HB 125 to reinstate Delaware’s death penalty was not good. The bill was released from Committee 7 votes to 4. Please call your House Representatives ASAP and urge them to vote NO on HB 125. The Bill is on the Agenda for the full House tomorrow 5/4/17.

Thank you so much to all who attended and to all who testified! Thank you to Movement for a Culture of Peace, the League of Women Voters, Delaware United, the Unitarian Universalist Church, Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, Coalition to Dismantle the New Jim Crow, the Delaware Center for Justice, the ACLU, the Delaware Green Party, and the folks from Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty! (Sorry if I’m forgetting some.) Our arguments against the bill were clear, coherent, diverse, and fact-based.

Special thanks to Rep. Sean Lynn who made a valiant showing of persuasive, rational argument. Thanks also to Reps. JJ Johnson, Gerald Brady, and Charles Potter for standing strong and voting to table the Bill. Sadly, the other 7 members voted the Bill out of Committee. We were operating at a distinct disadvantage as emotions were running high after the recent deaths of Cpl. Ballard and Lt. Floyd. The very moving annual Delaware Law Enforcement Officers Memorial was held at Legislative Hall earlier in the afternoon and many legislators on the committee attended.