Legislators are proposing changes to Delaware law that would require a jury to unanimously agree before a person is sentenced to death.
Under the Extreme Crimes Protection Act, a jury – not a judge – would decide whether a defendant is sentenced to death.
In August, Delaware Supreme Court ruled Delaware's death penalty law violates a person's constitutional right to a jury as outlined in the U.S. Constitution's Sixth amendment by allowing a judge to decide whether a defendant receives a death sentence. Since then, Delaware's death penalty has been on hold, and sentences for 12 men on death row were reduced to life in prison.
The proposed amendments would require that a jury unanimously find that an aggravating factor or factors exist making a person eligible for a death sentence, and that those factors outweigh all mitigating factors. As written now, a jury recommends to a judge whether aggravating factors exceed mitigating factors. The jury's decision does not have to be unanimous.