The death penalty could again be available for prosecutors to seek for defendants in the "worst crimes" under a bill being circulated in the Delaware General Assembly.
The state's capital punishment statute was ruled unconstitutional in 2016. Now, a group of lawmakers - both Republicans and Democrats - are getting behind legislation that would address several concerns.
Similar legislation passed the House of Representatives in the previous General Assembly session but it did not get a hearing in the Senate.
One cosponsor, Representative Stephen Smyk (R- Milton / Lewes), had a 24-year career in law enforcement and believes in some circumstances the death penalty could act as a deterrent.
"There are two types of criminals. There are those who act in impulse regardless of what ramifications there could be for their actions. But, there's another sliver of society that actually calculates the consequence of their actions," Smyk said.
State Senator Bruce Ennis (D- Smyrna) is also retired from Delaware State Police and supports what is known as the Extreme Crimes Protection Act.
"We're looking forward to making our case for adopting changes that will strengthen and improve our capital punishment system," Ennis said.
Cosponsors highlighted several provisions of the measure-
-Someone who is found guilty but mentally ill would not face the death penalty.
-A jury would have to unanimously find one or more aggravating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt to make an offender eligible for capital punishment.
-A jury would also have to unanimously find that aggravating factors had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt and that they outweighed mitigating factors.
-The presiding judge would need to agree with a jury's findings in order for the death penalty to be imposed.
Proposed aggravating circumstances would include the killing of a police officer, corrections employee, firefighter or paramedic in the line of duty.
Also listed as initial prime co-sponsors are Representative William Carson (D- Smyrna) and Senator Brian Pettyjohn (R- Georgetown).