General Facts

The Death Penalty was reenacted on March 29, 1974.

Prior to 1986, the method of execution in Delaware was hanging. Bill Bailey was the last inmate hanged in Delaware. His hanging took place on January 25, 1996. Prior to that, the last hanging in Delaware took place in 1946. In June 1986, the Delaware General Assembly enacted legislation that required lethal injection be the method of execution in Delaware. The law also stipulated that persons sentenced to death prior to the enactment of the law be given the choice of choosing their method of execution (either hanging or lethal injection). In April 1994, Governor Thomas R. Carper signed into law legislation (Senate Bill # 57) that mandates executions be carried out between the hours of 12:01 a.m. and 3:00 a.m.

The executioner is a volunteer who remains anonymous.

Housing: All inmates currently sentenced to the death penalty are housed in maximum security at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC). The inmates may be housed in any of the available maximum housing units and may be assigned to any program available to other maximum security classified inmates. The cells are approximately 13 feet long, 7 feet wide and 8 feet high. They may be housed in single cells or in cells with another inmate in some maximum security units. Their housing assignment, program assignment, and privilege level are reviewed every 90 days.

Meals: All inmates sentenced to the death penalty are served the same meals as the general population three times each day: 5:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. In more restrictive units, they are served meals in their cells; those assigned to less restrictive units eat in a dining hall in a group setting.

Media Interviews: Members of the news media may request an interview with an inmate sentenced to the death penalty by contacting the Office of Media Relations at 302-857-5232. The inmate must agree to the interview; however, JTvCC officials reserve the right to deny media access to any inmate for security reasons. Photographs of death row inmates may be permitted if the offender consents and if approved by the Warden.

Showers and Exercise: Inmates sentenced to the death penalty receive opportunities to shower and exercise up to seven days each week depending on thier maximum security unit assignment. The weekly time permitted for shouwers and recreation can range from as few as three hours each week and can reach up to 21 hours each week.

Security: Inmates sentenced to the death penalty are housed in the same conditions as all inmates who require maximum security. There are various levels of security controls used to maintain the safety of the public, staff and inmates depending on the unique challenges presented by each situation. Some offenders in maximum security never physically interact with staff without the use of restraints, take recreation only one inmate at a time to avoid contact with other inmates, and are not permitted contact visits. Maximum security offenders who require less restrictive security controls are free to move within a maximum security unit without restraints, participate in group recreation, join in available programs and may be permitted to have a contact visit with family/friends.

Mail and Entertainment: Inmates may receive mail every day the U.S Postal Service is open for business. They may receive books, magazines and newspapers in addition to personal and legal mail. There are limits on the amount of items they may have in their possession at any given time. Regardless of their housing unit assignment, they are permitted to purchase and retain a television and radio which are only capable of receiving over the air broadcasts (no cable). In addition to regular local television programming, there is a facility channel set up to broadcast religious services, educational material and other program content internally to the inmate population.

Privileges: Visitation may be conducted in a closed (behind the glass) or open setting depending on the restriction level of building where the inmate is housed. Phone calls are collect only and are paid for by the person accepting the call. Visits are scheduled by the visitor on a first come, first serve basis and are scheduled a week in advance of the visit. Commissary is paid for by the inmate account, which is derived from money deposited by friends/family and/or money earned by working in the prison. Inmates in maximum security including those sentenced to the death penalty are reviewed individually for their privilege levels ranging from level 1-4 according this chart:

Level Phone Calls (monthly) Visits (monthly) Commissary (bi-weekly spending limit)
1 1 1 $10 (hygiene/writing items only)
2 2 1 $25
3 3 2 $35
4 4 2 $45


JTVCC Visitation Rules and Procedures:

JTVCC Visitation Rules and Procedures.

Clothing: All offenders housing in maximum security including those sentenced to the death penalty wear orange clothing with large DOC lettering on the backs of the shirts and on each of the pant legs. The orange garments are manufactured by inmate labor in one of the many Delaware Correctional Industry shops inside JTVCC. They are provided undergarments, white sneakers and various other items such as towels, sheets and basic hygiene items.

Treatment Services: Correctional Counselors and the facility Chaplain are assigned to work with the inmates in maximum security to include those sentenced to the death penalty. In addition to individual counseling needs, inmates may be placed in other special programs such as education, mental health, inmate worker positions or any other program available to inmates in maximum security.

Public witnesses to executions: The Department of Correction does not allow members of the public to serve as witnesses to executions.