Death penalty repeal clears Sen. committee

By Tom Lehman/Amy Cherry 11:47pm, March 20, 2013 - Updated 2:48pm, March 21, 2013
Legislative Hall/WDEL File Photo
A state Senate bill that would repeal the death penalty is out of committee and now will be considered by the Senate as a whole.

The bill cleared committee after a nearly two hour public hearing, where both supporters and opponents of repealing the death penalty testified Wednesday. The bill was passed in a 4-2 decision.

State Senator Bryan Townsend (D-Newark/Bear) says the hearing featured testimony from both sides, including from families of murder victims, who are calling for the repeal of the death penalty.

"As the trials worked their ways through the process of the appeals and how it didn't really involve and relief until it's finally all over and therefore why they support repeal, because it doesn't involve a 15 or 20-year wait," Townsend says.

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He says opponents of death penalty repeal, who spoke at the hearing questioned data regarding the cost of the death penalty and believe the measure is an effective deterrent for the most serious crimes.

Townsend says he plans to vote for the bill as he believes the death penalty costs the state too much money.

"I'm not sure it'll be

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--it's going to be tense because it strikes really at the heart of so many fundamental issues for us as a community: public safety, and rehabilitation vs. retribution--and also law enforcement

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in Delaware are pretty united against the bill," he says.

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Townsend cites the cost associated the death penalty as a reason for why he supports a repeal.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.