Poll claims to show majority supports death penalty repeal in Delaware

DOVER — According to a survey conducted by the liberal Delaware Center for Justice and Public Policy Polling, 64 percent of respondents support life in prison over the death penalty for convicted murderers.

The poll comes about as Senate Bill 40, which would repeal the death penalty, waits for a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.

The executive director of the Delaware Center for Justice is Ashley Biden, daughter of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The Center for Justice opposes capital punishment.

One staffer with the group touted the results as evidence lawmakers should vote to abolish the penalty.

Public Policy Polling said it interviewed 573 voters in Delaware from April 12 to April 14 using automated interviews to gauge the public opinion on the death penalty. The poll was weighted to simulate the state’s demographics, and questions participants responded to included the most appropriate penalty for committing murder, their thoughts on the bill and how a vote for repeal from their representative would impact the prospect of re-election.

“Not only did every political affiliation show majority support for a life in prison alternative to the death penalty, every county showed some majority support,” said Eugene Young, “advocacy director” for the center’s Stand Up for What’s Right and Just.

According the center’s poll, 52 percent of self-professed Republicans supported repeal, as did 73 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of independents. A majority of residents in the survey in New Castle and Sussex counties supported the bill, while a plurality at 49 percent in Kent did so.

According to the center, 58 percent of respondents said they would be at least just as likely to vote for their representative if he or she supported the bill.

Fifty-nine percent of the respondents were in New Castle, while 21 were in Sussex and 19 were in Kent. Sixty-nine percent were white and 22 percent were black.

Participants were also divided by age: 34 percent in the 18- to 45-year-old age group, 42 percent in the 46 to 65 group and 24 percent over the age of 65.

The margin of error was 4.1 percent.

Mr. Young said the organization will provide the results to members of the House committee with the hope the bill does not stall there as it did in the prior legislative session.

Several lawmakers supporting Senate Bill 40 have said they do not expect the bill to pass out of committee.

A hearing date has not yet been scheduled.

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