September 17, 2012
The Delaware Repeal Project (DE Repeal), a newly formed coalition in Delaware, educates Delawareans about the problems of the death penalty system and promotes death penalty repeal in Delaware. The coalition is made up of diverse organizations and individuals who want to use the funds that will be saved by repealing the death penalty to provide better services for victims of crime and to reduce violence in our communities.
The coalition was founded by Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty, who have been organizing and educating around Delaware’s death penalty for over 20 years, the League of Women Voters, the Delaware Center for Justice, the NAACP, Pacem in Terris (a local peace and justice organization), and other local organizations. The work of Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty has led to this concerted effort towards repeal.
DE Repeal is focusing on expanding the coalition and grassroots support. To this end, DE Repeal is attending festivals and fairs throughout Delaware and beginning to organize in churches. The coalition is working to improve their capacity and prepare for the legislative phase of the repeal effort.
“The Delaware Repeal Project is seeking partners from all corners of Delaware. We would like a broad range of faith communities, families who have lost a loved one to murder, non-profit organizations, civic groups and individuals to help us promote a conversation about the flaws of Delaware’s death penalty system that is long overdue,” said Rachel Dromgoole, DE Repeal project coordinator.
After almost six years out of the limelight because of a challenge to lethal injection protocols, Delaware’s death penalty system began grabbing headlines again when the state executed Robert Jackson in July of 2011 and Derrick Powell and Leslie Small were sentenced to death in the months following. In April of 2012, Delaware executed again when the state took the life of Shannon Johnson.
On a more positive note, for the first time in Delaware history, the clemency petition of a death row inmate was granted when Robert Gattis received clemency from Governor Jack Markell, after the Board of Pardons recommended clemency on a 4-1 vote. His death sentence was reduced to life in prison without parole.
As a part of the coalition’s organizing effort, Dr. Tony Campolo is discussing the death penalty, crime, repentance, restitution and faith with members of the public and clergy in two separate sessions on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. The first session is an exclusive afternoon discussion with clergy and is to be followed by a free evening discussion open to everyone. For more information on these events contact Rachel Dromgoole.
For more information on the Delaware Repeal Project, or Delaware’s death penalty, visit their website or contact Rachel Dromgoole. You can stay up-to-date with all the happenings of DE Repeal by signing the petition to end the death penalty.
This article first appeared in CMN’s September 2012 newsletter.