Late last month, after serving several years on Delaware’s death row, Isaiah McCoy was released and acquitted of the murder for which he was originally convicted. There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime, and the testimonies that were used against him were inconsistent. Despite this, McCoy was sentenced to die, but after receiving a new trial, he was acquitted of murder. Upon hearing the news, McCoy wept and said that he plans on spending the coming days with his daughters. McCoy is the 157th person to be released from death row due to a wrongful conviction.
“Recommended this week” features highlights from the past week in news about the death penalty, crime survivors, and trauma-informed responses to crime.
Are Evangelicals Ditching the Death Penalty?, The Marshall Project
Another sign of how the U.S. is changing on the death penalty: Evangelical Christians are turning against it. Heather Beaudoin, our Director of Evangelical Outreach quoted in this article that looks at the demographic’s growing concerns over the ultimate punishment.
There’s trauma on both sides of the police-community relationship, The Washington Post
“African American and Latino children manifesting symptoms of stress and trauma akin to those who have lived in war zones. And many who patrol those communities show the same signs of stress and trauma… [T]hey’re supposed to serve share the same space, necessarily interact and can be deeply, sometimes tragically affected by each other.”
The latest sign that the death penalty is falling out of favor comes from Delaware, where earlier this month, the State Supreme Court struck down Delaware’s capital punishment statute as unconstitutional. The Court found that judges rather than juries wielded far too much power in determining who received a death sentence. The Delaware Attorney General has announced that his office will not appeal the ruling, which makes Delaware the latest in a growing number of states to scrap capital punishment.
Support for the death penalty is also shrinking across the United States. Two recently released polls show how unpopular capital punishment is becoming. According to the surveys, around 72% of Kentuckians and 53% of Oklahomans prefer alternatives to the death penalty.
“Delaware’s death penalty is gone,” said EJUSA’s Executive Director Shari Silberstein. “It’s only a matter of time before the whole house of cards that is the death penalty in the United States comes crashing down.”
Delaware joins the growing number of states that have abandoned the death penalty – the 19 that have repealed the death penalty (plus the District of Columbia!), the 4 that have a moratorium in place, and the 8 others that haven’t carried out an execution in more than 10 years.
On June 16, 2016, the Delaware Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Rauf v State, a case that will decide the future of Delaware’s death penalty. This case is the latest ripple effect from the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hurst v Florida ruling earlier this year, which struck down Florida’s death penalty and impacts other states, including Delaware.
Lawmakers in Delaware allowed a bill to repeal the death penalty to get a full debate on the House floor for the first time. The bill had been stuck in the House Judiciary Committee for the last several years.
The growing coalition in Delaware is fired up at having broken through the logjam. Though the bill did not pass, the fight is not over. In fact, there is still a chance the bill will have another day on the House floor in 2016.
Lawmakers across the country are reconsidering the death penalty, and things are really heating up in Delaware. Legislation to repeal the death penalty has already passed the Senate, and tomorrow, debate moves to the full House floor. If passed, it will go to the Governor, who has promised he will sign the bill.
We need YOU to dig through your address books, your social media accounts, and your “mental rolodex” to think of anyone you might know in Delaware. Connect them to our easy action alert, where they can contact their representative TODAY.
The bill to repeal the death penalty will be debated on the House floor this Thursday, January 28. After being stalled in committee for three years, the full House will finally get a chance to weigh in.
Like many people around the country, the people of Delaware – especially African Americans – have grown increasingly frustrated with the criminal justice system. Reflection, education, and dialogue have led to an urgency for action, and the state’s death penalty has come to the forefront as the highest priority.
“People in Delaware, especially within the black community, see the death penalty as the highest form of racial injustice,” says Donald Morton, Director of Complexities of Color (CoC). CoC is a coalition of service and advocacy organizations that have come together to improve the conditions of the African American community. Morton and CoC have worked with EJUSA and a number of other organizations to coordinate Town Hall meetings about race and the criminal justice system in each of Delaware’s three counties. Out of the Town Halls has come a commitment to see an end to Delaware’s death penalty.