Repeal of death penalty passes Delaware State Senate

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March 28, 2013

By Jennifer Springer

Delaware

DOVER, Delaware: Legislation that would repeal the state's death penalty passed the Delaware State Senate on March 26.[1]

While Senate Bill 19 originally contained a stipulation that would have altered the death sentences for the 17 individuals already sentenced to the death penalty in the state to life in prison without the possibility of parole, an amendment to the legislation, offered by its sponsor, Sen. Karen Peterson (D), stripped the bill of that provision.[1]

The amendment to the bill passed with 19 of the chamber's 21 senators voting in favor. The two no votes came from senators Harris McDowell III (R), who voted against the amendment, and Colin Bonini (R) who was absent.[2]

The amended bill then passed the full Senate a little more than two hours later, passed by an 11-10 vote.[3] The legislation gathered bipartisan support, with eight Democrats and three Republicans voting in favor, while five Democrats and five Republicans voting against.[3][1]

The measure is openly opposed by Attorney General Beau Biden.[1] Gov. Jack Markell has refused to say whether he favors the legislation.[2][4]

Supporters of the bill argue that the death penalty is "morally wrong, racially discriminatory, and ineffective as a deterrent to violent crime."[2] Opponents argued that some murders are so heinous and atrocious that capital punishment is appropriate.[2]

The bill now moves to the state House.[1] If the bill passes the state House without further amendments and is signed into law, those convicted of first-degree murder in the future will get life in prison, but those already on death row will stay there.[1]

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