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Governor’s Weekly Message Transcript: Eliminating Barriers While Transforming the Criminal Justice System

Former Governor Jack Markell (2009-2017) | News | Date Posted: Friday, December 4, 2015



Our country’s approach to criminal justice over the past few decades has driven unsustainable and unjust rates of incarceration. Less than 25 years ago, fewer than 700,000 people populated the entire state and federal prison system. Now that system releases 700,000 people in one year. The number of African-American men with a criminal record approaches 80 percent in some major cities. In a state of less than one million people, it’s costing us $270 million a year, while destroying families. And it’s not making us any safer.

One vital area in which we must change course is how we treat people awaiting trial. Twenty-three percent of our incarcerated population consists of these pre-trial detainees, many charged with non-violent offenses. We’ve got to focus on programs like the one we recently celebrated at the Rick VanStory Center. Partnering with the state, the center connects defendants to substance abuse treatment and other key social services, while ensuring they attend court hearings and comply with the terms of their release. That effort recognizes that an ineffective bail system means barriers are created for people to be productive citizens even before being convicted of a crime. We must reserve prison space for truly dangerous individuals, not low-risk defendants who are unable to pay. It’s not working when a single mom gets stuck in detention because she can’t come up with a hundred bucks and has little to no family support, but a dangerous drug dealer can get his minions to bail him out.

By transforming our criminal justice system to use our jail cells for individuals who actually need and deserve them, we’ll better serve our communities, use our state resources more effectively, and honor the fact that most people deserve a second chance. And that will keep Delaware moving forward.

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Keep up to date by receiving a daily digest email, around noon, of current news release posts from state agencies on news.delaware.gov.

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Governor’s Weekly Message Transcript: Eliminating Barriers While Transforming the Criminal Justice System

Former Governor Jack Markell (2009-2017) | News | Date Posted: Friday, December 4, 2015



Our country’s approach to criminal justice over the past few decades has driven unsustainable and unjust rates of incarceration. Less than 25 years ago, fewer than 700,000 people populated the entire state and federal prison system. Now that system releases 700,000 people in one year. The number of African-American men with a criminal record approaches 80 percent in some major cities. In a state of less than one million people, it’s costing us $270 million a year, while destroying families. And it’s not making us any safer.

One vital area in which we must change course is how we treat people awaiting trial. Twenty-three percent of our incarcerated population consists of these pre-trial detainees, many charged with non-violent offenses. We’ve got to focus on programs like the one we recently celebrated at the Rick VanStory Center. Partnering with the state, the center connects defendants to substance abuse treatment and other key social services, while ensuring they attend court hearings and comply with the terms of their release. That effort recognizes that an ineffective bail system means barriers are created for people to be productive citizens even before being convicted of a crime. We must reserve prison space for truly dangerous individuals, not low-risk defendants who are unable to pay. It’s not working when a single mom gets stuck in detention because she can’t come up with a hundred bucks and has little to no family support, but a dangerous drug dealer can get his minions to bail him out.

By transforming our criminal justice system to use our jail cells for individuals who actually need and deserve them, we’ll better serve our communities, use our state resources more effectively, and honor the fact that most people deserve a second chance. And that will keep Delaware moving forward.

image_printPrint


Graphic that represents delaware news on a mobile phone

Keep up to date by receiving a daily digest email, around noon, of current news release posts from state agencies on news.delaware.gov.

Here you can subscribe to future news updates.