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New poll shows half of Delawareans support bill to repeal death penalty

Delaware Public Media

A new poll indicates 50 percent of Delawareans favor passage of a bill repealing the State’s death penalty - with 32 percent strongly in favor of the bill and 18 percent somewhat in favor.

The poll , conducted by Public Policy Polling , was commissioned by the Delaware Center for Justice. It has a 4-point-one percent margin of error.

The poll also showed 16 percent are somewhat opposed to the repeal bill, 28 percent are strongly opposed and 6 percent are undecided.

The Delaware Center for Justice’s Advocacy Director Eugene Young says the group will share the results with lawmakers.

“Simply put the death penalty is the wrong policy choice for Delaware. It does not keep our communities safe. At its worse its an act of vengeance not justice which holds no place in our modern legal system," said Young.

Public Policy Polling conducted from April 12 to 14,  speaking with 573 voters.

Public Policy Polling’s Jim Williams offered a breakdown of poll’s sample numbers.

“This poll had 48 percent Democrats, 30 percent Republicans, 23 percent Independents.  69 percent white voters, 22 percent African American, 9 percent other,” said Williams.

Last month, the state Senate passed legislation to repeal Delaware’s death penalty by an 11-9 margin, with one senator absent.

It now heads to the House where similar legislation stalled last session.

Police groups strongly oppose repeal and will likely step up opposition.  House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf  (D-Rehoboth Beach) is a former state trooper and has said he will not vote for repeal without amendments allowing the death penalty for those who kill police or corrections officers.

Delaware is one of 32 states that currently employs capital punishment.  It’s last execution was of convicted murderer Shannon Johnson in 2012.

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