Death Penalty repeal bill on hold while under Supreme Court review

Sen. Karen Peterson, D-Stanton, and Rep. Sean Lynn, D-Dover, are suspending further legislative action on Senate Bill 40 – the death penalty repeal bill – due to the constitutional review of Delaware’s capital punishment statute by the Delaware Supreme Court.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has put the legitimacy of Delaware’s death penalty statute into question with its decision in Hurst v. Florida and Superior Court President Judge Jan Jurden has issued a temporary stay of all capital murder trials and executions,” Peterson said. “It only makes sense for the General Assembly to wait for the Delaware high court to rule before we decide on further action.”

To read the full article, click here.

Federal Judge Critiques Delaware’s Execution of Shannon Johnson

U.S. District Judge (former Chief Judge) Gregory M. Sleet considers whether Delaware’s Execution of Shannon Johnson in April 2012 was a subversion of due process and the adversary system. The Conclusion of his article in the Summer 2015 issue of the ABA Criminal Justice Section’s magazine, Criminal Justice is:

“Johnson’s case—a case that proceeded with notable and unnecessary haste from the time of his competency hearing to his execution—highlights profound failings in our judicial process. As a federal judge tasked with ensuring that individuals and entities that move through our judicial system are guaranteed a process consistent with the dictates of constitutional due process, I believe that the district court was prohibited from doing so in this case and that the process afforded Johnson fell far short of this guarantee. While Johnson may have, in fact, been competent to waive his appellate rights and expedite his own execution, I believe now, as I did then, that it is critical that the process resulting in an execution may be “judged in hindsight as having complied with the requirements of constitutional due process, as well as appear to the general public, which has a great interest in the issue, to have done so.” It is my sincere hope that this case and the subsequent examination of it will promote the changes necessary to ensure we can do so in the future.”

To read the full article, click on ABA Criminal Justice Summer 2015 issue and go to page 9.

SB 40 passes Senate 11-9!

So I’m sitting in my office wondering what’s happening with SB 40 to repeal Delaware’s death penalty. I can’t be in Dover because of work commitments. I have a break in my schedule about 3:30 so I quickly tune into the live audio on the general assembly website. Senator Dave McBride is testifying about why he changed from opposing to supporting repeal. Then the final vote. SB 40 passes 11-9!! I’m so excited, my hands are shaking as I’m trying to text to find out more details. Thank you to Senator Karen Peterson, who has shepherded this bill with dignity, common sense, and determination. Thank you to all those legislators who studied the issue carefully. Thank you to those members of Delaware Repeal Project and DCODP who have worked so hard and continue to support the cause. Thank you to all those citizens who contacted their legislators and continue to educate about this issue. We still have to pass the House, but this victory feels great!

Action Alert: Senate Committee Hearing for SB 40 Wed 3/25

DE Repeal logoThe Campaign to Repeal Delaware’s death penalty is in full swing! Here’s how you can help:

On Wednesday, March 18, 2015, Sen. Karen Peterson (D), Sen. Gary Simpson (R), and Rep. Sean Lynn (D), re-introduced legislation to repeal the death penalty. We are grateful for their leadership on Senate Bill 40.

Join Us

  • Help us fill Legislative Hall!  The Senate Judiciary Committee will be held on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 2pm.  We will need our supporters there early if we plan to fill the Senate Chamber.  Can you arrive between 11:30am – 12 Noon?  Click here to let us know. Getting there early means that you’ll have time to pay a visit to your Senator and Representative and let them know that you favor repeal.

Speak Up

  • Write your legislators and thank those that support repeal.  Ask them what they will do to ensure that SB 40 gets a vote.  If your Representative or Senator does not favor repeal, share the reasons why you think they should.  Click here to send them a quick email.
  • Host a letter-writing party, phone bank, and/or ask one of our field organizers to speak at your next meeting or church service.  Email Ellen@derepeal.org to schedule.

Speak Out

  • SB 40 is in the news! Visit the links below and leave positive comments on the articles.
  • Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter and help us share breaking news.

WDEL: “Delaware’s Death Penalty Put to Test Again” [Includes Video] http://wdel.com/story.php?id=66968#.VQozkyZE-Bs.wordpress

WMDT TV (MD): “Senator introduces bill to repeal death penalty:  http://www.wmdt.com/news/more-local-news/senator-introduces-bill-to-repeal-death-penalty/31874136

News Journal: “Sen. Peterson: Top Dem blocking death penalty repeal” http://www.delawareonline.com/story/firststatepolitics/2015/03/18/delaware-death-penalty-repeal-schwartzkopf-peterson/24986689/

WBOC TV (MD) [Includes Video]: “Death penalty repeal push back on in Delaware” http://www.wboc.com/story/28556379/death-penalty-repeal-push-back-on-in-del

WDDE: “Advocates of death penalty repeal start new push at Leg Hall” http://www.wdde.org/74519-advocates-death-penalty-repeal-start-push-leg-hall

DE NewsZap: ”Death penalty repeal bill introduced again.” http://delaware.newszap.com/centraldelaware/138954-70/death-penalty-repeal-bill-introduced-again

Connect with us through our Facebook and Twitter feeds for upcoming events and specific updates on repeal in Delaware and across the nation.

DCODP is a founding member of the Delaware Repeal Project.

Repeal Bill SB 40 Introduced in Delaware!

Today, Senators Karen Peterson and Gary Simpson and Rep. Sean Lynn introduced Senate Bill 40. The purpose of the bill is to repeal Delaware’s death penalty. This is the second time a death penalty repeal bill has been introduced. Introduced in 2013, Senate Bill 19 passed the Senate, but was stalled in the House Judiciary Committee.

Watch Senator Peterson’s comments: WDEL 1150AM – Delaware’s death penalty put to test again.

Read News Journal story: State Sen. says top Dem blocking death penalty repeal.

Write your state legislators asking them to support Senate Bill 40 to repeal Delaware’s death penalty with no exceptions! Click here to use the email form at Delaware Repeal’s website.

DEATH PENALTY REPEAL BILL TO BE INTRODUCED

Dear Death Penalty Repeal Supporters,

We need your help to get Delaware’s repeal bill off to a good start. You are invited to join us at three important events in Dover. Come early and bring a friend.

#1 – Help fill Legislative Hall.  The bill hearing is *anticipated* for 1pm or so on Wednesday, March 25th. In the next few days, we expect the bill to be circulated for co-sponsors. NOTE: We need to fill Legislative Hall EARLY. We are calling for supporters to arrive as early as 10:30 or 11am. Please watch for further announcements.

#2 – Wednesday, March 18 at 1pm. Bill Introduction and Press Conference. Please plan to stand with the bill sponsors and faith leaders in the Senate Chambers. RSVP to abe@abolition.org if you can be with us.

#3 – Ask friends, neighbors, family, and group and church members to contact their legislators. You can point people to the action page at DERepeal.org so that we can easily track constituent contact. The message at its core is simple – “I live in your district. I urge you to support the bill to repeal Delaware’s death penalty in all cases.” We will update the language once we have a bMarch16PrayInDoverill number.

#4 – Monday, March 16, Noon – Join us in Dover and, also, share the attached e-flier for the Complexities of Color Agenda’s “Moral Monday Prayer-In” at Legislative Hall. The death penalty repeal bill is but one of a number of important issues being raised at this exciting event.

Feel free to e-mail or call Abe Bonowitz directly at any time with any questions or concerns at abe@abolition.org or 561-371-5204 or my toll free number, 800-973-6548. You can also reach DE Repeal Campaign Manager Ti Hall at ti@derepeal.org.

Two men freed from Delaware’s death row due to prosecutorial misconduct

Prosecutorial misconduct contributed to reversing the convictions and death sentences of two men who served time on Delaware’s death row.

In January, the Delaware Supreme Court overturned the conviction and sentence of Isaiah McCoy, who was sentenced to death in 2012 for the murder of James Mumford.

In February, Jerome Wright was set free after his conviction and sentence were overturned. Jerome Wright was sentenced to death in 1992 for the murder of Phillip Seifert.

Both men may face new trials.

More information on Isaiah McCoy

More information on Jermaine Wright