Where is Pete Schwartzkopf now on the death penalty?

Where is Pete Schwartzkopf now on the death penalty?

On Aug. 2, the Delaware Supreme Court issued an opinion that the state’s death penalty statute violates the U.S. Constitution because it allows individual judges, not juries, to have the final say on whether the death penalty should be imposed. This effectively halted all future executions and death penalty prosecutions.

This was a welcome decision for the thousands of Delawareans who have been working to repeal the statute. It was the right decision. There is no need for state-sanctioned homicide in the name of the people of the state.

The court left it up to the General Assembly as to whether or not the now unconstitutional law would be revised to meet constitutional requirements. Not wasting any time, 15 Republicans in the General Assembly issued an open letter giving their support for “fixing” the law. Why? These legislators state: “In concert with Delaware’s leading police organizations, we maintain that capital punishment can serve as a deterrent, possibly preventing the worst of crimes from ever being committed.”

This is simply not true. For some strange reason, only the police community clings to this falsehood. Study after study indicates that the death penalty is not a deterrent to violent crime. In fact, studies show that states without the death penalty have had consistently lower murder rates! The police community (and the legislators it endorses and funds) insist on perpetuating a myth. For the sake of what? What’s in it for them? It’s as if they are ignoring the facts simply to keep an immoral and unethical law on the books.

The Republicans’ letter went on to state:

“We also believe that the death penalty is the only appropriate punishment for some offenses of such a heinous nature that no other sanction would be adequate.”

Really? A death row inmate in Delaware recently requested execution because the thought of life in prison without parole was simply too great a punishment to bear. That satisfies me that such a sentence is completely appropriate for heinous crimes.

I, along with thousands of the other Delawareans will fight any attempted “fixes” to the death penalty statute.

The real question for voters now is how many other representatives and senators will agree to try to revise the law. And it’s not just Republicans we need to worry about. While the national Democratic platform now seeks to abolish the death penalty nationwide, eight Democrats, including Rehoboth’s own Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, voted against repealing the death penalty in January.

What is Schwartzkopf’s position on this now? Will he continue to push the discredited deterrent myth? Will he continue in his twisted logic that we should repeal the death penalty except in the case of murder of a police or correctional officer? Or will he finally admit that the time has come to keep the death penalty statute off the books in Delaware forever?

Voters in this year’s Sept. 13 Democratic primary deserve to know the answer. Every voter should ask him where he stands now!

Don Peterson
Democratic candidate
for the 14th Representative District

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