Delaware's criminal justice system is badly in need of reform. Our state's incarceration rate is significantly higher than the national average, and our re-incarceration rate is among the worst in the U.S.
State leaders have taken some important steps to address these problems in recent years, but more work needs to be done. Proposals to improve our long-broken bail system and streamline our bloated, needlessly complex criminal code have been proposed, but have not made it across the legislative goal line.
Delaware needs an attorney general with the clout, experience and know-how to make those ideas a reality. Of the four candidates in the Sept. 6 Democratic primary, we think Kathy Jennings is best positioned to do that.
Each of the candidates has talked passionately about the need to repair racial and economic inequity. All speak eloquently about the need to refocus our courts and prisons on rehabilitation, not simple vengeance.
But even in a field full of promising candidates, Jennings' experience and credentials clearly stand out.
She has immense experience in the Department of Justice, having previously served as state prosecutor and chief deputy attorney general. She has a substantive record of working with the General Assembly to improve the law, having helped to scale back "three strikes" laws that dished out ludicrously harsh punishments for small-time crimes.
She is well-equipped to continue current AG Matt Denn's campaign against the opioid crisis, having worked on the problem personally as New Castle County's Chief Administrative Officer.
While Jennings supports humane and pragmatic criminal justice reforms, she certainly cannot be accused of being "soft on crime." She put Delaware's only serial killer behind bars and has the most extensive record as a prosecutor of all the candidates.
When a heinous crime is committed, Jennings is the candidate best suited to making sure the perpetrator faces justice.
Some of Jennings' opponents have questioned the depth of her commitment to fighting for a more just criminal justice system, arguing little progress was made during years when she was in influential positions. Make no mistake — we will hold Jennings to her promise that she will be a change-maker, not just a manager of the status quo.
We have seen Jennings push for reform before. We are confident she will continue to do so if elected.
Delaware hasn’t seen a competitive Democratic primary for attorney general since 1998. We are glad that sad streak of uncontested elections is over — even a cursory look at the debates, speeches and op-eds in this race show that voters deserve to see candidates compete for their vote.
Jennings’ primary opponents have made sure she does not become the next attorney general by a coronation. But we think that, when voters look at her resume, they will elect her based on her qualifications and her track record.
Party primary elections are on Sept. 6. To learn more about how to vote in this fall's elections and get information about the candidates, check out the Delaware Voters Guide.