Delaware Police Chiefs Weigh in On Death Penalty Repeal Bill–Guest Opinion

The following paper represents the position of the police chiefs throughout Delaware. The intent is to provide an objective and fact-based viewpoint that is opposed to the repeal of capital punishment. In summary, the Delaware Police Chiefs Council would urge the honorable members of this General Assembly to consider the following key points that are detailed within the report: • The Delaware constituents have throughout history expressed their opinion that the sentence of death is the appropriate punishment for murder of an aggravated nature. To supplant the opinion of the people as to what is right and just will result in further undermining the integrity of the criminal justice system as a whole. • The U.S. Supreme Court agrees that the death penalty for an abhorrent crime such as murder is not cruel and unusual and that it is up to the people to make that determination. To say otherwise, is to in effect say that the life of the victim is worth less than that of the murderer. •The primary goals of capital punishment are incapacitation and retribution, not deterrence. For some, the threat of consequences, even death, is not enough to prevent the commission of crime. It is for this very reason that the most severe of penalties is necessary. Capital punishment is the only method with which to guarantee the public’s safety from the offender in whom death creates no fear. Furthermore, to punish an atrocious murder with anything less than death instills in the public a lack of confidence that the criminal justice system can effectively protect their safety or is willing to enforce their sense of moral right and wrong. Delaware is not discriminatory in the application of its death penalty. Murder is not committed by a proportionate representation of all of the races, genders, or socioeconomic groups. According to the most recent Delaware data available, a greater proportion of black offenders commit murders than those of other races. Even so, more white offenders are currently on Delaware’s Death Row. Thus, the death penalty in Delaware is working as it should. Capital punishment is being reserved for offenders not based upon the color of their skin but rather for the atrocities committed. The facts have also positively disproved the proposition that more offenders who kill victims of a different race than their own are sentenced to death. The majority of offenders in Delaware sentenced to death actually murdered victims of their own race. •Delaware does not speed offenders to execution but guarantees them the same fundamental rights that the U.S. Supreme Court requires of all states. That Delaware is more efficient in the delivery of justice than California, a state which has faced federal litigation due to its system-wide malfeasance in the criminal justice arena is to be expected, and certainly not fodder upon which to base criticism. •Delaware’s death penalty does not apply to “accomplices” if the term “accomplices” means one who aids or abets. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Enmunds ruled that the death penalty may not be applied to one who merely aids or abets a murder. It does however apply to co-defendants, that is, anyone who takes part in the aggravated murder of a human life. •There has never been a case where a death row offender in Delaware was found innocent of the charges against him. Any offenders who have been removed from Delaware’s Death Row were removed through appellate processes as a result of legal technicalities at trial. Those offenders were instead re-sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, not the consequence that an innocent person receives. •As for costs, the cost of not maintaining the death penalty is far greater than the sum of its financial expenses. No study has successfully compared the associated pecuniary costs in a scientifically reliable manner between a sentence of death and a sentence of life without parole. Beyond that though, the true costs of aggravated murder far surpass any quantifiable data. Betraying the community’s sense of moral right and wrong by offering a “discount” on the taking of a human life will cost far more than any monetary calculation can repay. Allowing the cruelest offenders amongst us to “get away” with their crimes, with their lives, will result in undermining Delaware’s criminal justice system as a whole and will foster an even deeper lack of trust in our system’s ability to serve and protect. We are already seeing the results of this erosion of faith, when witnesses refuse to cooperate against murderers, when gang members murder without fear of consequences and when law enforcement officers die as valiant symbols of a system for which respect is eroding. Members of the General Assembly, the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council would respectfully request that, prior to making a decision in this regard, you would consider the shared opinion of the Council and that of the people of Delaware in deciding what is best. The report (available at the web address listed above) provides reliable support for the fact that, at least in Delaware, capital punishment is meted out objectively and to only the most cruel and depraved murderers. The murder victims, their families and the good citizens of the state of Delaware deserve to have their lives valued at the same level at least as that of the murderer’s. They deserve to have a criminal justice system that they can trust to do justice. Lewes Police Chief Jeffrey Horvath is chairman of the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council, Inc

5 thoughts on “Delaware Police Chiefs Weigh in On Death Penalty Repeal Bill–Guest Opinion”

  1. Thank you very much for posting this. It is a thoughtful and comprehensive look at all the aspects of a problem.. There are, of course, some debatable points, but it sincerely does help to have a structure added to the argument enabling others to understand the positives of maintaining such a policy….

  2. “The Delaware constituents have throughout history expressed their opinion…”

    By voting for the members of the General Assembly?

    Of the various points made, that one is the weakest. If Delaware voters felt strongly one way or the other, then expressing their opinion in the voting booth seems like the simplest route.

  3. The death penalty has never deterred anyone from committing murder. Thou shall not kill….that applies to “state sanctioned murder too”. Anyone who has ever seen the inside of a prison knows very well, life in prison is more a deterrent than death. For most the death penalty relieves them of a horrible life. For me I want them to suffer for years thinking about what they have done. Death is death. Too many people have been found not guilty while sitting on death row waiting…If you support the death penalty and an innocent person dies…its on your head not mine.

  4. “And welcome to this evenings episode of Death Row Gladiator. Tonight, we feature the Virginia Vagabond, Gary Estes, who murdered twenty-seven homeless men during a three-year rampage in central Virginia. His opponent is the former drug kingpin Jose Immanez, who ordered the execution of at least fifty-two drug rivals, judges and politicians in West Texas.

    As you know, the winner of this death-match will have his sentence reduced to ten-years, and will receive $100,000 in prize money.

    Now, on with the match…”

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