Advocates, critics respond to legislation aimed at death penalty in Delaware

DELAWARE – Capital punishment is the focus in Delaware as recent legislation aims to bring the punishment back to the First State. Right now, the death penalty is unconstitutional in Delaware, but some lawmakers are trying to amend the state’s legislation so that it’s legal. That has local groups reacting.

“There’s value in a properly used death penalty, and Delaware needs one,” Geoff Klopp, the president of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware, said.

“It shouldn’t be in Delaware, it shouldn’t be anywhere,” Molly Keogh, a member of Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty, said.

Those who advocate for capital punishment often argue that it acts as a deterrent against violent crime.

“If you’re going to tell me I’m already in jail for the rest of my life, and if I murder anybody in a correctional setting, all I’m going to get is another life sentence, there’s no reason for me not to do another murder if that’s what I wish to do,” Klopp said.

But those who are against capital punishment say the idea that it acts as a deterrent isn’t true.

“That’s been found not to be true, a lot of studies have been done, and people who are in a violent setting or plan on committing violence usually don’t think ahead,” Keogh said.

And they say that the system is designed to target certain groups over others.

“It has to do with racial disparity, there are more black and brown men on death row than any other group, and more poor people on death row than any other group,” Keogh said.

But Klopp says regardless of who is on death row, it’s a consequence that is appropriate if a jury says so.

“A death sentence is just that: you took a life, therefore, you give yours,” he said.

House Bill 165, which was sponsored by Representative Steve Smyk, requires that before sentencing a defendant to death, a jury find aggravating circumstances and weigh them against any mitigating circumstances. Smyk says the bill is long overdue to be heard in the House Judiciary committee, as it was actually filed in May of 2019.

Categories: Local News