News Release

Nation's Criminal Defense Bar Strongly Supports Delaware Effort to Repeal the Death Penalty

Washington, DC (April 23, 2013) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) today submitted a statement in support of SB 19, legislation that would repeal the death penalty in Delaware. On Wednesday, April 24, the Judiciary Committee of Delaware’s House of Representatives will hold a hearing on SB 19. Delaware’s Senate narrowly passed repeal legislation in late March.

As NACDL President Steven D. Benjamin said in his statement on behalf of the Association: “Countless studies have shown [the death penalty] to be arbitrary, discriminatory, costly, and fraught with error. Because we believe that no amount of tinkering will save the death penalty from its inherent flaws, NACDL supports abolition.” Benjamin added: “Since reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, 142 individuals sentenced to death have been exonerated after serving years on death row. Many others have had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment because of serious doubts about their guilt. Tragically, some have been executed despite serious questions concerning their innocence.”

Should Delaware vote in favor of repealing the death penalty, it would represent significant progress for a state that only ten years ago became the last in the union to officially dismantle its gallows. Enacting SB 19 would put Delaware in the company of a growing number of states that have abolished the death penalty in recent years. At the present, 17 states have outlawed the death penalty. Maryland is set to become the 18th when Governor O’Malley signs a bill passed by the legislature earlier this year.

NACDL is pleased that Delaware appears poised to join that group and abolish the death penalty. NACDL strongly opposes the death penalty and will continue to work tirelessly until capital punishment is a thing of the past throughout the nation.

A copy of the complete statement submitted today by NACDL President Steven D. Benjamin is linked here.

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Isaac Kramer, Public Affairs and Communications Assistant (202) 465-7656 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.