Letters to the Editor: Death penalty debate in Delaware

On Wednesday, May 13, the Judiciary Committee met to decide the fate of the bill to repeal the death penalty. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sean Lynn, D-Dover, gave a well-reasoned and articulate argument against the death penalty. There were many supporters of the repeal movement who wanted the bill to be released to the General Assembly for an up-or-down vote. That is representative democracy in action. However, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee had no intention of ever letting democracy play out with a full vote of the entire House. The vote was 6 to 5 to block the bill from having a full debate, thus thwarting democracy. This is one of the reasons why so many people are apathetic about politics and the arrogant people who singly decide for everyone what is allowed and what isn’t. As I was leaving the building, I saw a group of kids entering the building, and I thought about what they would learn in school versus the reality that Democracy is only a nice theory, but in practice, it is about political power and the arrogance of the people whom we entrust to act on everyone’s behalf. I hope Rep. Lynn asks for a suspension of the rules so that the whole House can vote on this important issue.

Paul Russell Milford

The ‘hounding’ of House Speaker Schwartzkopf Speaker of the House Representative Peter Schwartzkopf referred to the impassioned efforts of Rep. Sean Lynn and other concerned citizens to influence the House Panel to allow SB 40 released to the House floor for debate as “hounding people” to change their minds on things. I believe this simple “hounding” analogy gives good insight into the particular view that some in legislative leadership positions have in regard to an energized and involved constituency. It appears that the speaker prefers the legislative process keep churning away in a nice and pretty fashion with nothing to upset their agenda, with no interruptions from those pesky constituents. Unfortunately, this is not always the case with democracy. Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as “A government of the people, by the people and for the people.” Winston Churchill was quoted as saying, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” You see, democracy should be a bit messy, with a little friction and conflict, not a preordained assembly line. The word that Speaker Schwartzkopf chose, “hounding,” is also defined as: “harass, persecute, relentlessly chase,” and yes, even, “to stalk.” When the good speaker used this particular word, it was a bit degrading and an affront to those citizens who felt strong enough about the issue at hand as to do the unthinkable – exercise their First Amendment right to free speech. Sorry, Mr. Speaker, in the grand scale of social policy and injustice, there are some issues that are far more important than (not) irritating you and other legislators. In fact, Legislative Hall could use a lot more “hounding.”

Gordon Smith Delaware Domestic Violence Legislative Project Felton

Treating prisoners as guests I am so happy that the death penalty was not repealed. Anyone who commits murder deserves to sentenced to death. Why should us taxpayers have to pay for his or hers upkeep till they die in prison? Those goody two shoes who want to repeal it, get their names and have them pay for the cold-blooded murderers. The death sentence in my opinion and in my late husband’s opinion acts as a deterrent from committing murder. The prisons here in Delaware are not like prisons in foreign countries. Because we are so humane to others, we treat them like they are guests. We are too easy on those people who cannot comply with the law and feel that they can do whatever they want. It is such a sad situation. This generation of people are ready to accept anything and not fight for anything that is a detriment to life.

Irene A. Gillette Felton

Death-penalty debate waste of time I applaud the Whaley family members for standing up in favor of the death penalty. My heart also goes to them for the terrible loss they have suffered. Death-penalty opponents use one of the Ten Commandments, “Thou Shall Not Kill,” as their support in this issue. Yes, God says, “Thou shall not kill,” but He also says, “You must destroy evil lest ye be evil yourselves.” Did God not tell Moses to “kill” the idol worshipers when he came down from the mountain? Indeed He did. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire, and in many heinous criminal cases, a life term in prison does not justify the cause. In others, death would be too good, but this world has seen so much evil destroy innocent lives and the evil go unpunished that it has become numb and dumb when it comes to handing down justice. Add to that an all-too-liberal justice system, we can only sit back and watch as the crime rate soars while the innocent suffer. If, beyond the shadow of any doubt, a criminal is found guilty of a heinous, horrible crime by a jury of his peers, the death penalty should be recommended. Criminals continue committing crimes because they know how to work our fragile legal system and they also know that the punishment rarely fits the crime. I’ll respect the opinions of the others, namely those who oppose the death penalty. in this case, but, if I can offer a suggestion to them, read the local paper or watch the evening news and perhaps you’ll change your mind. Unless stricter penalties are enforced for crime, including the death penalty, evil will continue to flourish.

Debbie Hilton Felton

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