Senate Bill 19 to Repeal the Death Penalty Introduced

Affiliate: ACLU of Delaware
March 12, 2013 11:08 am

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DOVER — Senator Karen Peterson, Senator Gary Simpson, Representative Darryl Scott and Representative Joe Miro were joined by religious leaders, community leaders and murder victims’ family members today to announce the introduction of Senate Bill 19—an act to repeal the death penalty in Delaware.

“We know so much more about the death penalty now than we did when the basics of our current day system were established in 1977,” said Senator Karen Peterson, the lead sponsor of the repeal legislation.

“We’ve learned that we don’t need executions to keep the public safe or to punish violent criminals. We’ve learned that executions don’t help murder victim family members to heal. And we’ve learned that simply having the death penalty on the books creates a drain on scarce resources that we can no longer afford. As a public policy, capital punishment fails us and it is well past time to end it in our state,” she continued.

The bill removes all language from the Delaware code related to executing a prisoner, leaving life imprisonment with the possibility of parole (LWOP) as the ultimate punishment for first degree murder. The legislation would also change the sentences of those currently on death row to life imprisonment without parole.

Religious leaders standing in support of repeal included Bishop Aretha E. Morton, Pastor of the Tabernacle Full Gospel Baptist Cathedral and Rabbi Yair Robinson of Congregation Beth Emeth. Bishop Peggy Johnson A. Johnson, leader of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church, and Reverend James L. Moseley, Executive Presbyter of New Castle Presbytery also attended.

Other members of a broad coalition of faith and civic groups called the Delaware Repeal Project include the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, the Delaware Center for Justice, Pacem in Terris and the American Civil Liberties Union. Faith leaders from more than 100 Delaware congregations have signed onto a letter to the General Assembly supporting repeal.

Kristin Froehlich, President of Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty, was also present to support Senate Bill 19. Ms. Froehlich lost her 22-year-old brother to murder in Connecticut in 1995. Ms. Froehlich said, “Over the years many have pronounced that an execution is the way that survivors of murder will be healed. They say, “The death penalty is for the victims.” That is not my experience. Grieving and healing are lifelong processes with no shortcuts.”

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