UPDATED STORY: The Delaware Repeal Project and opponents of the death penalty say now is the time to repeal the death penalty in the First State. Supporters of Senate Bill 19 call the death penalty "barbaric," and describe how it's unevenly applied, mostly to minorities, the poor, the mentally ill and the mentally disabled. Clergy from several different faiths have come out in support of the bill, which would repeal the death penalty and change the sentences of the 17 inmates curently on Delaware's death row to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Among those who testified in favor of the death penalty before the House Judiciary Committee were the Delaware Police Chiefs' Council, the Delaware State Troopers Association, the state Corrections Officers Association and representatives from the Attorney General's Office, along with the surviving relatives of some murder victims. Other relatives of murder victims from both Delaware and other states, along with Randy Seidel, who was exonerated after spending 12 years on death row in Illinois after being wrongly convicted of a double murder, and Ron McAndrew, a former corrections officer in Florida who was a member of the death team. Relatives of murder victims who oppose the death penalty say the trials and appeals force them to repeatedly relive the heinous murders of their loved ones. Other death penalty opponents cited the higher costs of death penalty trials, as well as studies which failed to prove that the death penalty is a deterrent. During closing comments, Representative John Atkins (D-Millsboro) said if the bill was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law, it would be a "game-changer," and would put first responders at greater risk.
Delaware's death penalty repeal bill is drawing support from the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. The bill did NOT get released from committee.
Death penalty repeal supporters will this morning rally on the steps of Legislative Hall in Dover.
Following the 10:30 a.m. rally, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 19; that’s the bill that would repeal the death penalty here in the First State.
The measure passed the Senate last month.
WGMD’s Andrew Koch will be at the rally and at the hearing. He will have more information this afternoon.
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