Delaware Legislature Considering Death Penalty Repeal Bill

On March 12, Delaware State Senator Karen Peterson introduced a bill to repeal the state’s death penalty and replace it with life without parole. “I don’t think the state should be in the business of killing people,” Peterson said. “It just is so bizarre to me that we would say to somebody that what you did was so horrible, that now we’re going to do it.” Senate Minority Leader Gary Simpson, a Republican, is also backing the bill. The bill is retroactive, meaning that it would also replace the sentences of those on death row with life without parole. Supporters of the bill say that the death penalty is too costly and does not deter crime. Two police organizations oppose the bill, saying that the death penalty should be available for those who murder police officers. Governor Jack Markell has not taken a position, saying he has “an open mind” regarding death penalty repeal. Delaware has carried out 16 executions since reinstating the death penalty and has 17 people on death row.

(J. Starkey, “Death Penalty Repeal Revs Up As Police Groups Voice Opposition,” News Journal, March 12, 2013.) See Recent Legislation and Delaware.