Calling the death penalty “an instrument of imperfect justice,” Governor Jack Markell (pictured) of Delaware announced on May 7 that he will sign the death penalty repeal bill under consideration in the state legislature if the bill reaches his desk. The Delaware Senate passed repeal in April by a vote of 11-9. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing soon. Markell had not previously taken a stance on abolishing the death penalty. Upon announcing his decision, he said, “This is not an easy issue. My thinking has changed and I just wanted to give it very careful consideration.” The Governor cited recent exonerations and flawed testimony in capital cases as reasons why he believes repeal should pass. “I know this is a really difficult issue for members of the General Assembly,” the governor said. “I hope that after considering the arguments as I have, they will reach the same conclusion that I have.” Recent studies of Delaware’s death penalty have revealed significant racial disparities in capital sentencing in the state. More than three-quarters of Delaware’s death-row inmates are black or Latino. No state with more than one death-sentenced defendant has a higher percentage of racial minorities on its death row.

(J. Offredo, “Gov. Markell: I will sign Delaware death penalty repeal,” Delaware News Journal, May 7, 2015.) See Recent Legislative Activity and New Voices.