Death Penalty Repeal Push Back on in Del. - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Death Penalty Repeal Push Back on in Del.


DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - The push to repeal the death penalty in Delaware is back on, and its supporters think their fortunes will be different a second time around.

A bill to repeal Delaware's death penalty was first introduced back in 2013. It narrowly got through the state Senate but died in the House.

The repeal bill was re-introduced Wednesday. A group of lawmakers, religious leaders and other repeal supporters stood in the state Senate chamber and announced their intention to take another crack at replacing the death penalty with life without parole as Delaware's harshest punishment.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Gary Simpson, R-Milford, is one of the few Republicans who has been supportive of the effort. He thinks round two will be different from round one.

"I think maybe it's shown legislators can still get elected opposing the death penalty. That's a little bit of a difference," he said. "I think there will be greater emphasis on one-on-one conversations with those legislators who are opposed."

Supporters say the death penalty is imperfect, racially biased, too expensive. Opponents say it is a crime deterrent and an appropriate punishment for the most serious crime.

Much of the argument on both sides of this issue is still the same as it was two years ago.

But Rep. Sean Lynn, D-Dover, the bill's sponsor in the House, says some things have changed.

"In the last 12 months alone, two individuals have been freed from death row because of defects in their trial. So, clearly the constant refrain - Delaware does not make mistakes - that argument no longer holds water."

"Those people whose sentences were changed and were taken off the death penalty, nobody is saying they were innocent, right? So, at the same time, I'm not sure we're putting any innocent people to death," said Tom Brackin, head of the Delaware State Troopers Association.

Brackin says Delaware's law enforcement community remains staunch in its opposition to repeal and will continue to push back against it.

18 states currently don't have the death penalty. Maryland was the most recent addition to that list. Its repeal legislation passed in 2013.

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