Delaware State Senate Votes to Repeal Death Penalty, Again

The Delaware State Senate voted in favor of Senate Bill 40 by Karen Peterson, which would repeal the death penalty, Thursday. The vote barely received the required majority of 11 votes. (Roll call here)

The repeal vote saw support and opposition that defied normal lines of party, ideology, and geography, which normally are on display in state issues. Downstate Conservatives such as Senators Simpson and Lopez supported the repeal while upstate liberals such as Senators Hall-Long, Poore, and Marshall opposed it. Overall 3 Republicans crossed over to support the repeal and 4 Democrats opposed it.

Analysis–What you may not know about the dynamics of this debate

Supporters turned down amendments to keep the death penalty for law enforcement, ignoring arguments that it protects law enforcement from being targets by people who have nothing more to lose (if they are already facing life without parole, why not kill a cop to escape?), terrorism, including mass events such a bombings or acts of torture (even killing thousands or ISIS style murders), killing of a child, or killing after a rape (similar argument to the one with executing officers–person could face life so murdering the victim if there is not the threat of a substantially greater penalty is a risk since leaving the victim alive makes identification more likely).

Apparently, supporters of the repeal shared the view of Pope Francis who says that once the threat is neutralized and the person can no longer kill, there is no justification for taking their life under any circumstances. That is a reasonable moral argument. There are also those who believe the death penalty in Delaware is racially biased because 70% of those on death row killed a white person (even though 72% of the population is white) and a black person is 2 times more likely to get the death penalty for killing a white person than the other way around. The fact is that Delaware is the state most likely to execute a white person for executing a black person, 3 times more than black on black murder and almost twice as likely as white on white murder. Some also site cost as an issue. Of course the only reason costs are so high is the determined effort of the ACLU and others to toss roadblock after roadblock in the way to raise costs just to make the argument. Others have a powerful argument about the effect on those carrying out the executions. Those arguments affected the public conscious as far back as President Grover Cleveland who as a Sheriff would pull the lever himself because of the effect on his underlyings.

The debate will now go the House of Representatives where it faces an uphill battle. The speaker is a former State Trooper and proponent of the death penalty. To compensate, the Delaware Death Penalty Repeal Coalition is upping their ground game. They are seeking to hire field organizers. One is to reach out to conservatives and downstaters and the other is to reach out to minorities statewide. They are also seeking to augment the staffers with interns. Proponents such as the Police Chiefs and crime victims are making no similar efforts to rally support. They are depending upon the fact 60% or more of the public support their position. This could be a serious miscalculation. Time will tell.

7 thoughts on “Delaware State Senate Votes to Repeal Death Penalty, Again”

  1. It is just my opinion, but I agree with the pope. If only one innocent person is put to death, by the state, who is responsible! Not the state of course, they can do not wrong. (ROTFLMAO)
    If a person is guilty of murder, then sentence him or her to life in prison without parole and they are no longer a threat and must face the ultimate punishment when they pass to the other side.

    I didn’t always feel this way but I’ve read about innocent people being put to death by the state, only to have someone else confess to the crime or after the execution, DNA evidence exonerates the person. A big Whoops and apology from the state doesn’t cut the ice.

  2. Problem is if I am serving a life time in jail for killing someone. What is my deterrent not to kill any Correctional Officer or court official or inmate???…..none

  3. “What is my deterrent not to kill any Correctional Officer or court official or inmate?”

    If you are a death row inmate awaiting execution, there is certainly no deterrent at all.

    Don Ayotte is right. Any system run by humans is going to make mistakes. That is simply the way humans are. So, as Wolf points out, we built in all sorts of levels of review and checking, which are extremely expensive and time consuming. The result – we spend a lot of money, and humans still make mistakes.

    One might think that on Good Friday, of all days, we might consider that the potential in the long run to execute an innocent person, even if that risk is very very small, is always going to be non-zero. Given the foundation of the Christian faith – the execution of an innocent man by a corrupt state – I’ve always been puzzled by the notion that Christians should support the death penalty.

    While there are a lot of political issues on which we don’t have a lot of direct guidance from Jesus, he did intervene in a perfectly lawful execution – the stoning to death of an adulterer – and was ultimately himself executed after a duly convened trial.

    Killing a murderer doesn’t bring back the victims. It is simply another killing, with the only difference being that it is the state – and by implication all of us – doing the killing. Which, again, it has always struck me as odd that while conservatives profess to be skeptical of state power, in general they seem pretty enthusiastic about giving the state the ultimate power of life and death over citizens.

    People make mistakes. And it is easy to say “Well, okay, but in really clear cases where there is no doubt, there is no problem.” What you set up there is simply another line-drawing exercise that attempts to distinguish the “cases where there might be doubt” from “the really clear cases”. That’s something of a naive way of thinking, which requires one to believe that circumstances will always be well away from one side of that line or the other. Reality just doesn’t work that way. Under the right circumstances, people will even confess to things they did not do. It happens.

  4. Here’s another:

    Timothy Evans was sentenced to death by hanging for the murder of his daughter in 1949 at their home in Notting Hill, London. Evans maintained his innocence and repeatedly accused his neighbor, John Christie, of murdering his wife and daughter. The police investigation and physical evidence used to convict Evans was weak. After Evans’ trial and execution, Christie was found to be a serial killer who was responsible for murdering several women at his residence. There were massive campaigns to overturn Evans’ conviction and an official inquiry was conducted 16 years later. It was confirmed that Evans’ daughter had been killed by Christie, and Evans was granted a posthumous pardon. Link


  5. Maybe deportation to a slave penal colony could work instead of making a too big to fail business out of prisons in America.

    That way if they were still alive then the (oops!) could just go get them if it turned out they were wrong about something.

    How much do Islands cost these days?

    Apparently some, not much:
    (7 Private Islands That Cost Less Than A Flat In London)
    (9 Islands You Can Own for Less Than the Cost of College …)

    The average minimum-security inmate now costs $21,000 a year, while the average high-security inmate costs $33,000 a year. Add it all up, and the Obama administration had to request $6.9 billion for the Bureau of Prisons in fiscal 2013. WashPost

    There’s probably some law that says, “You have to keep all these criminals here, right next to you.” I suppose.

    But if not the maybe buy an island next to the banking islands… for that matter, just build fences around the banking islands and keep both the upper class and the lower class criminals there! The owners of Corrections Corporation of America, where are you? This could be a great business opportunity for them.

    Apparently CCA is accredited by the American Correctional Association… but what the heck is that?

    The ACA was originally founded under the name National Prison Association in 1870. The name was officially changed in 1954 with hopes of having a name that more accurately reflected the organization’s philosophy on [“]corrections[“]. –Wikipedia

    Who knows if they would approve of the island idea or the death penalty. You have to love it when it’s “American Correctional Association” and this and that. Oh, you mean it’s some old people talking about what to do with criminals? “I say we try to correct them. All in favor of corrections? Yay! No nays? Ok, write that down. Wait, I thought we were voting for a bathroom break!”


    In any case, remember the Australian model:

    Between 1788 and 1868, approximately 165,000 convicts were transported to the various Australian penal colonies by the British [hopium and usury-r-us!] government.[1]
    During the 17th and 18th centuries the British government transported some of their [“]criminals[“] to the American colonies, but this practice was brought to an end by the American Revolution and Britain’s gaols became overcrowded. –Wikipedia

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