Cape Gazette
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Delaware implored to repeal death penalty

By Sue Claire Harper | Mar 21, 2013

Ask all citizens of conscience to contact their senator and representative to express support for repeal of Delaware’s death penalty, as introduced by Sen. Karen Peterson in Senate Bill 19 March 13.  This bill provides that those who are currently on death row in Delaware will have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment without any option for parole.

There are innumerable disturbing issues related to Delaware’s death penalty, so I will cite just a few of those I have found most distressing.  A person is more likely to receive a death sentence based on their race, location or economic standing than on the severity of their crime.

A recent Cornell University study of our death penalty found that 70 percent of Delaware’s death sentences were imposed in white victim cases, although the majority of murder victims over the same time period were black.  Moreover, 90 percent of those facing capital charges could not afford to hire a private attorney.

In Delaware, a defendant can receive a death sentence for driving a get-away car even if that person did not pull the trigger.  Per capita, Delaware ranks third in executions among states, and is one of only three states where a judge can overrule a jury’s decision not to impose the death penalty.

The death penalty costs taxpayers approximately three times more than life imprisonment without parole - money that could be far better used to hire additional law enforcement professionals, as well as provide support funds for victims and families who are affected by these crimes.

Surprisingly, there is no evidence that the death penalty serves as a deterrent to crime. In fact, homicide rates in states with the death penalty have been shown to be 48 to 102 percent higher than in states without the death penalty

Most frighteningly, research by the Equal Justice Initiative (http://eji.org/) has revealed that for every nine people executed in this country, one innocent person has been exonerated. If you wish to learn more about issues surrounding the death penalty, I refer you to the following website:  http://www.aclu.org/capital-punishment/case-against-death-penalty.

With your support, it is really possible for Delaware to be the seventh state in seven years to end the death penalty, thus joining our neighboring states of Maryland and New Jersey in abolishing this barbaric practice.  

I personally thank you for your consideration.

Sue Claire Harper
Rehoboth Beach

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