For the second time in three years, lawmakers in the state Senate narrowly voted to repeal the death penalty, setting up a fight in the House, where police groups and the chamber's top Democrat will oppose the effort.
The Senate voted 11-9 on Thursday in favor of repeal after about an hour of debate. Sen. Greg Lavelle, R-Sharpley, was absent for the vote. Sen. Robert Marshall, D-Wilmington, flipped from supporting repeal legislation in 2013 to opposing repeal on the Senate floor on Thursday.
"I wanted an amendment so that the death penalty conviction would guarantee that the individual convicted would be 23 hours in a cell, one hour outside the cell forever," Marshall said.
Senate Majority Leader David McBride, D-Hawk's Nest, flipped his vote from no to yes, saying the death penalty is a "failed public policy that serves no purpose in our criminal justice system."
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Karen Peterson, D-Stanton, includes an exemption for the 15 inmates currently sitting on Delaware's death row, who would still face execution by lethal injection.
The measure has support from clergy and a finely tuned political effort partly organized by Erik Raser Schramm, a Democratic operative and former top aide to Delaware House Democrats. A coalition supporting Peterson's bill includes the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware, the Delaware Center for Justice, the NAACP and the League of Women Voters.
Gov. Jack Markell has yet to weigh in. A spokeswoman for Markell said in an email Thursday that the governor is following the debate, but would not take a position.
Source: Delaware Online, John Offredo, April 3, 2015
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