Delaware Court Rules Death Penalty Statute Unconstitutional

Citing that it violates the Sixth Amendment role of the jury, this week the Delaware Supreme Court ruled the state’s death penalty statute was unconstitutional.  The court’s ruling was based on the fact that under the statute, judges, not juries had the final say in imposing a death sentence. Judges were able to override the jury’s recommendation of life in prison.

The ruling came after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that Florida’s statute, which also gave judges the final say on sentencing, was unconstitutional. It is unclear if Delaware will rewrite its death penalty statute as its state legislature came close to repealing the death penalty entirely in 2015.

Delaware now joins a growing number of states that have abandoned the death penalty-19 states have repealed their statutes, four states have moratoriums in place to prevent executions and eight other states haven’t carried out an execution in more than 10 years.

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