The death penalty is back on the table in Delaware

DOVER, Del. – The death penalty is once again back on the table in Delaware.

“We are giving our judiciary a tool that’s going to speak to that sliver of society that find a majority of the public their victims,” explains Representative Steve Smyk.

Smyk is re-introducing a version of the death penalty bill he tried to get passed back in 2017. It’s called the Extreme Crimes Protection Act.

“The death penalty every time it’s either been lifted or just not put in use by the State of Delaware, there’s always been a series of heinous crimes that has actually brought public opinion to support the death penalty.”

Smyk tells 47 ABC that the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center riot back in 2017 that resulted in the tragic death of Lieutenant Steven Floyd is a big reason why he’s at it again.

“The people that perpetuated that crime had nothing else to lose but to add another life sentence onto their existing life sentences.”

An issue that some lawmakers believe needs to be discussed.

“I think we really need to look at the consequences for the behavior that takes innocent lives. It takes lives of those that are engaged in protecting our citizens. I think we really need to look at that,” explains Rep. Ruth Briggs King.

And since this bill has been modified to include that a jury has to unanimously agree to impose capital punishment as well as no one convicted on a “guilty, but mentally ill” verdict would be sentenced to death.

“As its being re-introduced with modifications making the threshold even higher the bar is set even higher than it was.”

But even with the changes, Democratic Rep. Sean Lynn can’t get behind it.

In a statement to 47 ABC, Lynn says, “While I have not seen a bill yet, I also have never seen a bill reinstating the death penalty that addresses the inherent bias and racial disparities that exist in implementing such a policy. The facts are that no matter what ‘protections’ proponents put in place, the death penalty is not administered equally to all defendants without bias. I remain morally opposed to the death penalty. I simply do not believe that the state should be in the business of killing its citizens.”

Now although just introduced, this legislation has already gained bipartisan support in the General Assembly, plus endorsements from the Delaware State Troopers Association and the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware.


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