Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Republican state lawmakers plan to introduce legislation reinstating the death penalty in Delaware

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

Delaware’s Supreme Court ruled the state’s capital punishment law unconstitutional in 2016, and GOP lawmakers are revising their effort to bring it back.

State Reps. Tim Dukes (R-Laurel) and Danny Short (R-Seaford) plan to introduce the “Law Enforcement and First Responders Protection Act” in the new year.

“We started working on this piece of legislation – I believe it was 2020 – and the idea has always been to protect those who protect us, and that is law enforcement and public safety," Dukes said.

Dukes says the bill will focus on addressing the constitutional concerns cited by the state’s High Court in order to restore Delaware’s capital punishment law while also reserving the death penalty for those convicted of murdering police officers or public safety officials.

“It’s all over the state where we’ve lost correctional officers and police officers. This is about remembering their lives and a statement that we make to their families and their friends that we don’t forget," Dukes said.

The bill comes in response to last week’s life-in-prison conviction of the man who murdered Delmar Police Corporal Keith Heacook in April 2021.

The bill would cover a scope of law enforcement and public safety workers, including EMTs, paramedics and firemen.

A broader bill to reinstate the death penalty failed to receive a committee hearing this year. Dukes hopes this narrower bill will receive bipartisan support in the upcoming legislative session.

Before residing in Dover, Delaware, Sarah Petrowich moved around the country with her family, spending eight years in Fairbanks, Alaska, 10 years in Carbondale, Illinois and four years in Indianapolis, Indiana. She graduated from the University of Missouri in 2023 with a dual degree in Journalism and Political Science.
Related Content