Markell Announces Three Judicial Nominations

Governor nominates Rapposelli, Wallace for appointment to Superior Court; Danberg for appointment to Court of Common Pleas

WILMINGTON – Governor Jack Markell today announced his nomination of three dedicated public servants for positions on Delaware’s judiciary.  This afternoon, Markell announced that he has nominated Vivian L. Rapposelli and Paul R. Wallace for appointment to the Superior Court, and Carl C. Danberg for appointment to the Court of Common Pleas.

The positions for which Ms. Rapposelli and Mr. Wallace have been nominated are new Superior Court judgeships recently authorized by the General Assembly for New Castle County.  Mr. Danberg has been nominated to fill the vacancy on the Court of Common Pleas created when Judge Eric M. Davis became a Superior Court judge.

Since 2009, Ms. Rapposelli has served as Secretary of the Department of Services for Children, Youth & Their Families, a 1,200-person state agency charged with providing and  managing a range of services for children who have experienced abandonment, abuse, adjudication, mental illness, neglect, or substance abuse.  From 2004-09, she served as president and owner of Rapposelli & Gonzales, the state’s first law firm comprised entirely of bi-lingual and multi-lingual attorneys, where her practice included immigration and civil rights litigation.  Previously, she served as an associate at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP, where she practiced in the areas of personal injury, worker’s compensation and medical malpractice, and as a supervising attorney at Delaware Volunteer Legal Services.

Ms. Rapposelli, a Democrat, is a graduate of Ursuline Academy, the University of Delaware and Widener University School of Law.

“Vivian Rapposelli is an outstanding attorney, an exceptional manager and a dedicated public servant,” said Markell.  “Whether serving as an attorney in private practice or as head of the Department of Services for Children, Youth & Their Families, Vivian has proven that she is an individual who is committed to justice and the rule of law.”

“I am honored that Governor Markell has chosen to nominate me for this important position,” said Rapposelli.  “If I am confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to serving the people of Delaware as a member of our state’s world-class judiciary.”

A 23-year veteran of the Delaware Department of Justice, Mr. Wallace has served as DOJ’s chief of appeals since 2008.  In that capacity, in addition to supervising ten deputy attorneys general, he regularly represents the state in appellate proceedings before the Delaware Supreme Court and other courts.  From 2005-08, Mr. Wallace served as the Department of Justice’s chief prosecutor in New Castle County, and from 2001-05, he served as unit head of the Department’s Felony Trial Unit.  He has also served as unit head of the Department’s Sex Crimes Unit and as its chief white collar crime prosecutor.  A Republican, Mr. Wallace is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the Columbus School of Law of the Catholic University of America.

“Over the last two decades, Paul Wallace has litigated some of our state’s toughest cases.  During that time, he has proven himself to be an attorney of uncommon skill, intelligence and judgment. I believe that if he is confirmed by the Senate, he will serve our judiciary and our state well,” said Governor Markell.

“As an advocate for the Department of Justice for more than 20 years, I know firsthand the important role our judiciary plays in the lives of our citizens,” said Wallace. “I am honored greatly by the trust Governor Markell has placed in me with this nomination.  If I am confirmed by the Senate, I pledge to do my best to continue the well-established tradition of excellence of the Delaware judiciary and its outstanding staff.”

Mr. Danberg currently serves as Commissioner of the Department of Correction, a position he has held since 2007.  In that capacity, he is responsible for an annual budget of over $250 million and 2,500 employees supervising 16,000 offenders in the community and 6,500 offenders in 11 facilities.  From 2005-07, Mr. Danberg served as Attorney General of the State of Delaware, where he was appointed by Governor Minner to complete the unexpired term of the Hon. M. Jane Brady.  From 1996-2005, he served as deputy principal assistant to the Commissioner of Correction.

Since 1998, Mr. Danberg has been a member of the Delaware Army National Guard, where he currently serves as a Lt. Colonel in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.  In addition, since 1995, he has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware, where he currently teaches the constitutional law of criminal procedure.  A Democrat, Mr. Danberg is a graduate of the University of Delaware and Widener University School of Law.

“I am humbled by my nomination, and I thank Governor Markell and the Judicial Nominating Commission for their faith and confidence in me,” said Commissioner Danberg. “In recent years, I have had the privilege of serving the people of Delaware in several important capacities.  If I have the honor of being confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to continuing to serve our state in this important new role.”

“From his work as Corrections Commissioner, to his term as Attorney General, to his service in the Delaware Army National Guard, to his work teaching constitutional law at the University of Delaware, Carl Danberg truly exemplifies the meaning of public service,” said Governor Markell.  “Carl is one of the most honorable, hardest working and dedicated public servants I have known, and I have every confidence that he will make an outstanding jurist if he is confirmed by the Senate.”


Governor Proclaims October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Delaware

WILMINGTON –Surrounded by state officials and advocates, Governor Jack Markell proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Delaware.

 “This proclamation hopefully draws awareness to an issue that merits our attention year-round,” said Governor Jack Markell. “We must be vigilant and supportive every day of those around us to ensure they are safe and free from abuse.”  

 Delaware created the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council to improve the state’s response to domestic violence.  The council brings together domestic violence service providers and policy level officials to identify and implement improvements in system response through legislation, education and policies.

 “Domestic violence has impacts that ripple throughout society,” said Senate Majority Leader Patricia Blevins, D-Elsmere, who has been at the forefront of efforts to protect victims of domestic violence and is the chair of the DVCC. “While combating domestic violence is a year round job, this month gives us an opportunity to put a spotlight on it and to remind people, dealing with this threat to their safety and the safety of their families, that there are laws to protect them and help available to them so they can break the grip domestic violence has on their lives.

 Added Carol Post, the executive director of the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence: “Domestic Violence Awareness Month gives us the opportunity to highlight all the great work being done in Delaware by both government agencies and nonprofit organizations to protect victims of domestic violence and their children, hold abusive partners responsible for the violence and engage in prevention efforts aimed at ending the violence once and for all.”

 Attorney General Beau Biden, whose office has worked with Sen. Blevins and other legislators on several bills that increased protections for victims of domestic violence, noted that work of the DVCC and other groups have ‘shone a bright light’ on the problem of domestic violence.

 “Domestic Violence Awareness Month sends a clear message that this country does not tolerate violence against women,” Biden said. “Incidents of domestic violence have dropped more than 50 percent nationally since Congress first passed the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, but we still have a lot of work to do. Every day, three women are killed abusive husbands or partners. Congress should reauthorize VAWA as soon as possible so that the bright light keeps shining for the millions of women and families still in the darkness.”

 Last year the state’s Department of Correction created a Victim Services Unit to assist victims and survivors in becoming both informed and involved so that they may experience less frustration and trauma with prison and probation personnel and be better prepared to participate in the corrections process if they choose. The DOC’s Victim Services Unit phone number, which is staffed during regular business hours Monday through Friday, is (302) 857-5440.

 “Proclaiming October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month provides an opportunity to raise the issue of domestic violence to the forefront of discussion and provide much-needed support to victims of a crime that affects people regardless of their age, ethnicity or economic status,” said DOC Commissioner Carl Danberg, who is also the vice-chair of the DVCC. “The fact that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime is a staggering indicator of how widespread this crime is within our communities. May we use this month’s opportunity of increased awareness to educate and then start working toward ending this violence.”

 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotlines 
New Castle County 302.762-6110
Kent and Sussex Counties 302.422.8058
Bilingual Kent and Sussex 302.745-9874

 

Photos from this event are available on Flickr.


New 700 MHz Radio System Improves Communications in Delaware Prison Facilities

Gov. Markell conducts a live demo of the system showing enhanced capabilities

A newly installed 700 MHz communications system within the Department of Correction (DOC) greatly enhances communication capabilities within all prison facilities and for the first time, provides a direct connection to emergency responders statewide.

“The new system has vastly improved communications,” said Governor Jack Markell.  “It allows better connections within the correction system and with first responders.  The public safety community and the public are safer because of it.”

This new $7 million trunked system, funded through a Public Safety Interoperability Communications (PSIC) grant from the federal Office of Emergency Communications, utilizes tower sites to transmit and receive information and process messages through a system server giving DOC a state of the art system with many new capabilities.

These include: 

  • Multiple channel, P25 digital, trunked system allowing multiple users to communicate simultaneously  
  • Prison to prison communications with all facilities linked statewide
  • External Communications with 95% in-street reliability
  • Internal communications coverage at 95% or better regardless of user location
  • Public Safety interoperability with 18 channels to reach all partner agencies
  • Emergency Button Function on all personnel radios monitored 24/7 by dispatchers

 “Having direct communication among all DOC facilities, as well as to outside first responders, enhances our ability to provide a safe environment for staff and those individuals we supervise. The ability to implement this communications system is a great example of cooperation between state agencies, and we are grateful for the assistance provided by the Department of Safety and Homeland Security,” said DOC Commissioner Carl Danberg.

 “As chair of Delaware’s Statewide Interoperability Executive Council (SIEC), I am extremely proud of this project because we provided a comprehensive system that supports internal and external communications at no cost to the State,” said Safety and Homeland Security Secretary Lewis D. Schiliro. “Making certain DOC as well as other public safety agencies are able to talk to each other every day is important. But, ensuring communications during an emergency is critical and can save lives. The most important tool we can provide our public safety community is reliable and efficient communications.” 

 DOC was previously operating on a conventional system which relied on a single channel radio to radio configuration allowing only one conversation to take place at a time.  Additionally, the radio to radio communications was limited and required the use of repeaters to extend the range of the signal.  Delaware’s Statewide Interoperability Executive Council (SIEC) was formed to help public safety agencies like the DOC identify and fund communications solutions that support interoperability.

 With more than 740 users of the new system, which include correctional officers and probation and parole officers, building a system that met the needs of Corrections was priority for the SIEC.  Since turning the system on in February of this year, there have been over 1.5 million transmissions with only 20 transmissions not getting through on the first try.

 “As the DOC Director of Emergency Preparedness, I am acutely aware of how critical passing minutes – and even seconds – can be as an unexpected situation unfolds. Being able to directly request assistance, from both inside and outside an impacted area, will reduce response times and allow us the best opportunity to minimize the incident,” said Dave Hall.

 In 2008, Delaware applied for and received funding through the PSIC Grant.  This funding allowed Delaware to build a statewide 700MHz P25 compliant Land Mobile Radio system.  This system was designed and built with the idea of migrating DelDOT from the current 800MHz system to the 700 MHz system.  During the final project stages, and upon reviewing the intended use of this system, it became evident that DelDOT was using the 800MHz system effectively and that the more pressing need for Delaware was to shift the Department of Correction (DOC) to the new 700 MHz system.

 “This project was the result of our Division of Communications and DelDOT staff thinking outside of the box and working together truly for the benefit of the people of this State,” Schiliro said .


Governor Signs Justice Reinvestment Act

Reforms Focused on Improving Public Safety Efficiency and Effectiveness

 

WILMINGTON –   Surrounded by a group of leading judges, legislators, attorneys, law enforcement professionals and corrections officials, including representatives from the United States Department of Justice, Governor Markell signed into law at New Castle County Police Headquarters Senate Bill 226, which implements recommendations of the Justice Reinvestment Task Force created in July 2011 by Executive Order Number 27.   The Task Force released a report in March 2012 that identifies new strategies to reduce crime and recidivism,  protect and support victims, hold offenders accountable, and focus efforts on offenders that present the greatest threat.  

 

Sponsored by a bipartisan group of legislators, the Justice Reinvestment Act (SB 226) promotes informed decision-making in the criminal justice system by institutionalizing the use of evidenced-based practices in decisions concerning bail, rehabilitation and probation supervision, and helps ensure scarce resources are focused on higher-risk offenders. 

 

“We owe it to Delawareans to ensure that our criminal justice spending is wisely invested to have the biggest impact on public safety.  If we can properly allocate that spending to focus on programming that reduces recidivism and prevents future crime we can have a significant impact on the safety of our communities,” said Governor Jack Markell.  “The Justice Reinvestment Task Force has developed a set of recommendations that could have significant impact.” 

 

S.B. 226 includes the following key provisions:

 

·         Pretrial Risk Assessment. The Act requires implementation of an objective assessment instrument that gauges defendants’ risk of flight and re-arrest to help magistrates make informed decisions about the terms or conditions of pre-trial release. The Act also requires the Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) to provide magistrates with data on rates of re-arrest and failures to appear for scheduled court dates, creating a track record for release decisions and help improve future decision-making.

·         Risk and Needs Information at Sentencing. The Act provides that the court may request an objective risk and needs assessment by the Department of Correction (DOC) for use in sentencing.

·         Program Completion and Earned Compliance Credits. To incentivize completion of evidence-based programs that reduce recidivism, offenders may reduce time served by up to 60 days per year if they complete programs successfully. Offenders under community supervision may earn credit for successful compliance with conditions of probation.

·         Case Planning. The Act requires DOC to use a risk assessment instrument for case planning and will use evidence-based programs to reduce offender risk.

·         Assessment of Community-Based Services. The Act directs the DOC to evaluate the availability of community-based programs that reduce risk of re-offense.

·         Recidivism Study. The SAC is required to produce annually a recidivism report of one-year, two-year, and three-year rates of re-arrest, reconviction and recommitment.

 

“This new law will help focus our resources on making sure our limited prison space is used for the people who pose the greatest danger to society while ensuring that everyone who breaks the law is still held accountable,” said Senate Majority Leader Patricia Blevins, D-Elsmere, who sponsored the measure. “It represents a real effort by our criminal justice community to modernize the way we handle offenders throughout the process.”

 

Senator Liane Sorenson (R-Hockessin) who, along with the other primary sponsors of the bill, served on the task force says what she likes best about the bill is the use of evidence-based practices.

 

“Every issue we looked at we looked at the numbers,” Sorenson said. “We looked at the numbers for Delaware, we looked at the numbers nationally, and in other states to see where we stacked up. We looked at what we could do differently, what’s been working smoothly and where there were problems. This is the result of that process.”

 

State Representative Greg Lavelle (R-Sharpley), a member of the Justice Reinvestment Task Force, said, “It was an honor to be part of this process.  The task force focused on dealing with systemic problems within the criminal justice system and I believe Senate Bill 226 will go a long way toward lowering Delaware’s recidivism rate, as well as ensuring that higher-risk offenders are held more accountable and that our probation and parole populations are better supervised.  This new law will also ensure that tax dollars being spent within the criminal justice system are used in the most efficient manner.  I look forward to improved outcomes as a result of today’s enactment.”

The law signed today sets us on a path toward meeting the goals of the Task Force,” said Drew Fennell, Executive Director of the Delaware Criminal Justice Council.  “The provisions of SB226 are intended to reduce recidivism—the rate at which those exiting prison commit new crimes. Recidivism is the best measure of a prison system’s effectiveness, and reducing recidivism is the key to public safety. Research shows that the most effective use of corrections dollars is to target moderate- to high-risk offenders.  By concentrating prison and supervision resources on these individuals, Delaware positions itself to protect public safety using the best available science.”

The State of Delaware spends more than $250 million annually on corrections expenses. For more than a year, the State of Delaware has been working diligently to improve the administration of our criminal justice system through our Justice Reinvestment Task Force.  Led by Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn, the Justice Reinvestment Task Force is a bipartisan and multidisciplinary group of judges, legislators, attorneys, law enforcement professionals, and corrections officials dedicated to adopting evidence-based strategies to improve public safety and allocate criminal justice resources appropriately.

 

The Governor also talked about focusing on Justice Reinvestment in his State of the State address in 2011 with the goal of identifying new strategies to reduce crime and recidivism; control the growth in the prison population, protect and support victims and focus on offenders that present the greatest threat.  

 

The State of Delaware received support for the justice reinvestment initiative from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.  Technical support was provided by the Vera Institute of Justice, which provides assistance to government leaders to improve the systems people rely on for justice for safety.

 

See Delaware Justice Reinvestment Task Force Report

See Delaware Justice Reinvestment Initiative Fact Sheet