In most states, the death penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst—murderers who abduct and kill children, homicides with multiple victims, or assassin/murder for hire cases.
In Delaware however, a defendant can receive a death sentence for driving a get-away car even if he didn’t pull the trigger and actually kill someone.
Since 1992, we have conducted 16 executions; California has executed 13 times. In contrast, Pennsylvania, with a death row of about 200, has executed only three men in the last 20 years.
The expansion and liberalization of our death penalty law has often been reactionary. In the aftermath of a horrible murder the General Assembly will add aggravating circumstances to our statute or change the way a jury or judge decide on a death sentence. The result is one of the broadest death penalty statutes in the country.
Another example—in all but three states, a jury makes the final decision regarding whether a death sentence is imposed and in most of these states the decision must be unanimous. In Delaware, Florida and Alabama, the jury makes a non-unanimous recommendation to a judge, who makes the final decision about life or death.