Former NM Governor Visits Dover to Push for Death Penalty Repeal - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Former NM Governor Visits Dover to Push for Death Penalty Repeal

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - Supporters of a push in Delaware to repeal the state's death penalty are continuing to bring high-profile advocates to Dover in hopes of swaying lawmakers.

The repeal has been stuck in the legislature for almost exactly a year. It narrowly passed the state Senate before stalling in the House Judiciary Committee.

Recently, there's been a significant push to un-stall it.  It included a visit by former UN ambassador and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to Dover Thursday.

"I'm not here to lecture. I'm here to express my experiences. My state, I believe, is safer," he said.

Once a death penalty supporter, Richardson actually ended up changing his mind. He even signed a repeal into law in New Mexico.

"The issue became more real to me, because I knew the day would come when one of two things would happen. One - I would have to take legislation to repeal the death penalty, or more daunting, I might have to sign someone's death warrant."

Richardson isn't only the latest high-profile visitor to Dover pushing for repeal. Last week Sister Helen Prejean, author of "Dead Man Walking," was in Dover.

Despite these visits, opponents of repeal, like the state's law enforcement community, remain committed to keeping the punishment in Delaware.

"They're not Delawareans," said Tom Brackin, president of the Delaware State Troopers Association. "They don't vote in Delaware. They don't represent Delaware. I think our legislators are more inclined to listen to their constituents and those who serve them here in Delaware.

Brackin doesn't see key lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee changing their minds.

"The facts that were in front of them last year are the same facts that are in front of legislators this year," he said.

Still, Richardson is hopeful opinions will change.

"Delaware deserves a vote on this important piece of legislation. It's a matter of life and death," the former governor said.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has been quiet publicly about where he stands on the issue. Gov. Richardson acknowledged he spoke with Markell today. But he refused to characterize Markell's position.

Delaware has 17 inmates on death row but currently does not have the necessary chemicals to carry out an execution if one were ordered.

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