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Note: We see that almost 80 percent of our homicides are crimes of passion resulting from blind rage, jealousy, arguments over property, revenge, drinking arguments, etc.

Source: Taken from FBI uniform crime reports.


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Note: of these 1,871 persons paroled after being sentenced for murder only 2 committed another murder and only 9 committed a felony. The other violations were for indiscretion or misdemeanors. Persons serving time for murder have been the best parole risks and the best of prisoners.

Chart 6.-Example of inequity in application of capital punishment in recent years and subsequent custodial problem arising from death sentence. 1960-1964: 43,890 homicides; 145 executed.

1962: 8,404 homicides; 99 condemned; 6 committed from courts that year executed. 47 executed that year (median elapsed time from sentence to execution 20.5 months); 57 disposed of by other means; 267 awaiting execution at end of year.

1963: 8,500 homicides; 91 condemned; 3 executed. Of the 21 executions that year, 6 were sentenced in 1962, 9 in 1961, 1 in 1960, and 2 in 1959, median elapsed time, 16 months; 48 disposed of by other means; 297 awaiting execution at end of year.

1964: 9,250 homicides; 98 condemned; 3 executed (5,956 indicted; 2,620 convicted); of the 15 executed that year, 4 were sentenced in 1963, 2 in 1962, 2 in 1961, and 4 in 1960, median elapsed time 20.5 months; 68 disposed of by other means; 315 awaiting execution at end of year.

1965: 9,850 homicides; 67 condemned; 1 executed. Of the 7 executed that year, 1 was sentenced in 1962, 3 in 1961, and 2 in 1960, median elapsed time 44.5 months; 62 disposed of by other means; 331 awaiting execution at end of year.

1966: 10,920 homicides; 114 condemned; none executed. The 1 execution in 1966 had been under sentence of death for 47 months; 53 disposed of by other means; 406 awaiting execution at end of year.

1967: 2 executions. Colorado-Luise Monge: Sentenced Dec. 18, 1963; executed June 2, 1967 (1,261 days). California-Aaron Mitchell: Sentenced Sept. 28, 1964; executed Apr. 12, 1967 (926 days).


Text of General Resolution adopted by the Organizing Meeting of the Unitarian Universalist Association, held in Syracuse, New York, on May 13, 1961.

Whereas respect for the value of every human life must be incorporated into our laws if it is to be observed by our people; and

Whereas modern justice should concern itself with rehabilitation, not retribution; and

Whereas it has not been proved that fear of capital punishment is a deterrent to crime; and

Whereas human judgments are not infallible, and no penalty should be used which cannot be revoked in case of error; and

Whereas capital punishment has not always been used impartially among all economic and racial groups in America; therefore be it

Resolved, That the Unitarian Universalist Association urges its churches and fellowships in the United States and Canada to exert all reasonable efforts toward the elemination of capital punishment; and be it further

Resolved, That copies of this resolution be sent to the Governors of all states in which capital punishment has not yet been eliminated, and to the Canadian Minister of Justice.

(Passed by voice vote, no count requested.)

Text of General Resolution adopted by the Fifth Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association, held at the Diplomat Hotel, Hollywood, Florida, on May 21, 1966.

Resolved, That the Unitarian Universalist Association urges the complete abolition of capital punishment in all United States and Canadian jurisdictions; and be it further

Resolved, That the Unitarian Universalist Association seek to encourage the governors of the states and the Canadian cabinet to pursue a policy of commuting death sentences until such time as capital punishment is abolished throughout the United States and Canada, and be it further

Resolved, That the Unitarian Universalist Association urges its member churches and fellowships to work for the formation of state councils affiliated with the American League to Abolish Capital Punishment, or work with such state councils where they already exist and to support the Canadian Society for the Abolition of the Death Penalty.

(Adopted by greater than a two-thirds majority vote.)


Capital punishment survives today as one of the last vestiges of a discredited approach to the problem of how to deal with offenders against society. It is the hallmark of an attitude which confuses justice with vengeance and rehabilitation with retribution. As such, to the extent that the death penalty still exists (and thankfully it is falling more and more into disuse), we are victims of our own worst instincts as a society.

There is no question that the death penalty is on its way out throughout the world. Some nations discovered long ago that they could survive without resorting to the executioner. Luxembourg has been without executions since 1822, Finland since 1826, the Netherlands since 1860-in all, 33 nations have abolished the death penalty. In our own country nine states have done away with capital punishment outright; four others have limited the application of the penalty to very few crimes-killing a policeman or murder by a prisoner serving a life sentence.

One of the major justifications put forth for capital punishment has been its deterrent value. Almost every study that is known indicates that this simply is not the case. The fear of the death penalty apparently has no effect on the

prospective murderer. Indeed, all the evidence seems to point to a lower murder rate in nations and state that have abolished executions.

I would like to refer to the 1965 statistics on the murder rate and death penalty. The source is the U.S. Statistical Abstract (1967).

The murder rate for entire country for 1965 was 5.1 per 100,000 population. The murder rate for 11 states which had abolished the death penalty was 2.5 per 100,000 population.

The highest murder rate in the country: Alabama 11.4 (death penalty state). The lowest murder rate in the country: Vermont 0.5 (abolition state).

The comparison between similar states having the death penalty and those that had abolished it is as follows:

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Death penalty State:

(a) Illinois-5.2

(b) Connecticut-1.6

(c) Indiana-3.5

(d) South Dakota-1.6

(e) Nebraska-2.4

(f) New Hampshire-2.7
(g) Washington-2.2

Only in pairings (b) and (g) do abolition stages show a higher rate than deathpenalty States. Pairings are by what are considered similar socioeconomic and population factors.

Murder rates for all other abolition states: Alaska 6.3, Hawaii 3.2, Minnesota 1.4 and Vermont 0.5 Note: Of all abolition states only Alaska has higher rate than national rate of 5.1

1965 executions: Only four states had executions in 1965-Kansas (four), Missouri (one), Alabama (one) and Wyoming (one). Combined murder rate for these states is 8.4 per 100,000. Without Alabama's 11.4, the combined rate for remaining three states is 4.1, well above the 2.5 rate for combined abolition states. It would seem that the kind of enlightenment that leads to eliminating capital punishment also leads to the kind of social programs that produce fewer criminals.

As a labor representative, I cannot help but refer to the well-known fact that it is the poor who suffer most from the death penalty. The late Sing Sing Warden Lewis E. Lawes, who was only one of the many prison officials and wardens who have overwhelmingly testified against capital punishment, stated that the common factor among all who died in his institution's electric chair was that they were "the poor, the friendless and the foreign born." Today we could add that more often than not they are from among our racial minorities.

The professional murder can afford a high-priced lawyer to maneuver him out of the death house; the penniless offender who kills in a possionate rage or in a deep panic is much more likely to end up the executioner's victim.

It has been the tradition of the labor movement to speak out against any law that discriminates against the poor. In 18th Century England when 200 crimes (including petty theft) were punishable by death and executions provided public amusement on Tyburn Hill, the chief victims of the hangman were the poor. Today when we have sharply limited the number of offenses punishable by death and executions are carried out in semi-secrecy bording on shame, the victims are still the poor. This injustice must come to an end.

It is time that the United States abolished the death penalty. Then perhaps we could proceed to the positive and difficult work of devising programs for the treatment of offenders that would serve to protect the public while genuinely striving to rehabilitate the criminal.


(A Research paper prepared by Dr. Glenn W. Samuelson, associate professor of sociology, West Chester State College, West Chester)


Words of appreciation are in order to thank those who have kindly assisted me in this study.

To the Honorable Herbert L. Cobin, Judge of the Family Court of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County, I want to express my gratitude for his encouragement to engage in this interesting and provocative research and for his guidance.

To Dr. William Nardini, Commissioner of the Department of Correction, State of Delaware, I am grateful for his interest and for his permission to analyze the commitment records at the New Castle Correctional Institution.

To Supervisor John L. Boyd of Records and Statistics of the Department of Correction, State of Delaware, and his statistical clerks Frank A. Marinelli, Henry H. McDonald and Raymond V. Yarnall, I appreciate the splendid cooperation and assistance in reviewing the commitment records and other data at the New Castle Correctional Institution.


Retention of the death penalty as an instrument for punishment and as a deterrent to crime has been continuously debated in private and public arenas and on the printed page.

Arguments for and against capital punishment have centered around such issues as deterrence, religious and moral grounds, sanctity of life, protection of society, alternative penalties and the risk of error.1

It is not the purpose of this study to extend this debate but to examine certain evidence to ascertain whether the restoration of the death penalty in the State of Delaware has deterrence value.

The death penalty was abolished for all capital crimes on April 2, 1958, and three years, eight months and 16 days later, it was restored on December 18, 1961. The interesting account of the passing of the bill, known as the Melson Bill, to abolish the death penalty and the events which resulted in its reinstatement is adeptly reported in the article, "Abolition and Restoration of the Death Penalty in Delaware," by Judge Herbert L. Cobin of the Family Court of Wilmington, Delaware.2

This investigation may be viewed as a continuation of the study made by Judge Cobin. There was an updating of the reporting of the number of persons charged with criminal homicide. The focus of this study was geared to the securing, examining, and evaluating of data from original sources.

Prior to April 2, 1958, the date when the abolition of the death penalty went into effect, there were five crimes which could be punished by death; namely, rape, kidnapping, treason, willful or malicious wounding or poisoning where death ensued within one year, and murder in the first degree.7




In Delaware, legal execution prior to abolition and following restoration to the present date of this study is by hanging. The last execution in Delaware took place in Sussex County in 1946 when a 34 year old male was hanged for the crime of murder in the first degree.9

The law abolishing the death penalty for all capital crimes passed on April 2, 1958 states, "Punishment by death for any crime in this State is hereby abolished." 10

On December 18, 1961, capital punishment was reinstated for only one crime, that of murder in the first degree. The new law reads:

"Punishment by death for any crime in this State is abolished, provided, however, that this section shall not apply to murder in the first degree."


1 For a comprehensive discussion of the death penalty controversy, read Hugo Adam Bedau (ed.) The Death Penalty in America (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, 1965) and Thorsten Sellin (ed.) Capital Punishment (New York: Harper & Row, 1967). 2 Bedau, op. cit., pp. 359-379.

3 Delaware Code Annotated, Title 11, Volume 7, "Crimes and Criminal Procedures" (Brooklyn Edward Thompson Co., 1953), § 781. Rape; carnal knowledge and abuse of female seven.

Ibid., § 623. Kidnapping.

5 Ibid., § 861. Treason.

6 Ibid., § 573. Wounding or poisoning causing death within year.

7 Ibid., § 571. Murder in the first degree.

8 Ibid., § 3909. Infliction of capital punishment. Amended December 18, 1961.

I. M. H. Bradner, Legal Executions in Delaware, a mimeographed report distributed by the Correctional Council of Delaware, Inc., 1956.

10 The State Laws of Delaware, Volume LI (Milford: Del. Milford Chronicle Publishing Co., 1957), Chapter 347, Section 1. Approved April 2, 1958.

11 Delaware Code Annotated, op. cit., § 107. Capital punishment abolished; exception, Amended December 18, 1961.

"Whoever commits the crime of murder with express malice aforethought, or in perpetrating, or attempting to perpetrate the crime of rape, kidnapping or treason is guilty of murder in the first degree and of a felony and shall suffer death.

99 12

A conviction of murder in the first degree, however, may result in a sentence of life imprisonment when the jury brings a verdict of guilty with a recommendation of mercy. This provision is stated as follows:

"In all cases where the penalty for crime prescribed by the laws of this state is death, if the jury, at the time of rendering their verdict, recommends the defendant to the mercy of the Court, the Court may, if it seems proper to do so, impose the sentence of life imprisonment instead of death." 13

Conviction of murder in the second degree is a mandatory life sentence plus a possible fine. The law reads:

"Whoever commits the crime of murder, other than murder in the first degree, is guilty of murder in the second degree and of a felony, and shall be imprisoned for life, and may be fined in such amounts as the Court, in its discretion, may determine."

99 14

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Restoration of the death penalty in the State of Delaware was based on the assumption that the death penalty acted as a deterrent to criminal homicide, The three following hypotheses were formulated to test this assumption based on the effect of the annual rate of murder commitments occurring prior to abolition, during abolition and after the restoration of the death penalty in Delaware during a ten year period, July 1, 1956 to June 30, 1966:

1. The annual rate of persons charged with murder and committed by a magistrate or, in Wilmington, by a judge of the Municipal Court to one of the three Delaware Correctional Institutions (Kent, New Castle, and Sussex) to be held for inquest by the grand judy prior to the abolition of the death penalty was less than the annual rate during abolition.

2. The annual rate of persons who were charged with murder and committed to one of the Delaware Correctional Institutions during abolition of the death penalty was more than the annual rate before abolition or after its restoration.

3. The annual rate of persons charged with murder and committed to one of the Delaware Correctional Institutions after the restoration of the death penalty was less than the annual rate during abolition.

One can note that no distinction is made in the three hypotheses for murder in the first or second degrees. There is an awareness among criminologists that the differences between a person who is charged, committed, and convicted on first or second degree murder is rather tenuous. This being the case, this research includes those who were committed either for first or second degree murder charges.


The securing of the data to test the three hypotheses presented a number of problems. The use of the official police arrest records were unobtainable because of certain legal restrictions. Also they would have to be gathered separately from the City Police Departments of Wilmington, Newark, Dover and the State Police located at Dover.

Although the court records for all persons indicted for murder could have been studied in the Offices of the Prothonotary in the three county seats of Delaware, it was decided to examine the commitment records for the three county correctional institutions to secure the needed data.

The commitment records are composed of printed sheets in two sizes, the short sheet (1013/16" x 11") and the long sheet (14" x 11''). These records have been kept in hard cover binders for the three counties in the Records and Statistics Department at the New Castle Correctional Institution since July 1, 1956, when the new State Board of Corrections formally went into operation.

The commitment record sheets are composed of 24 horizontal lines for the listing of each person committed to the correctional institutions. With the use of both sides of the long and alternate short sheets, 142 vertical columns may be checked or filled in with numbers or other information.15

12 Ibid., 571. Murder in the first degree. Amended December 18, 1961.

13 Ibid., § 3901. Recommendation of mercy. Amended December 18, 1961.

14 Ibid., § 572. Murder in the second degree.

15 Evening Journal, Wilmington, Delaware, February 9, 1966, p. 25.

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