As Attorney General, I will work to ensure that every citizen is treated fairly by the justice system, regardless of race, religion, gender, or their zip code. We have a moral obligation to treat everyone with respect, integrity and fairness. The Attorney General is the “people’s lawyer” – I will pursue commonsense solutions to ensure safety, fairness, and equal justice for all.
I’ve spent most of my life working to make Delaware’s criminal justice system more fair and equitable, and I am the only candidate with a proven record of achieving criminal justice reform. Under the leadership of Attorneys General Beau Biden and Matt Denn, I reformed habitual offender laws to end the three-strikes, mandatory life sentence rule. This gave judges more discretion to make sentencing decisions based on the circumstances of the case, rather than predetermined, inflexible rules that disproportionately impacted people of color and individuals from low income communities. I also secured bipartisan support for legislation that enabled judges to sentence crimes concurrently instead of consecutively. I advocated for the restoration of rights for people convicted of drug crimes—it makes no sense to restrict driving privileges and thereby make it more difficult for them to work. I also supported the restoration of voting rights for formerly incarcerated individuals to ensure that they can actively participate in our democracy.
In order to reform Delaware’s criminal justice system, we need to elect someone who has a proven track record of doing just that. I know how to get this done, because I have gotten it done in the past. We need to provide services for those who who have committed crimes but want to change their lives for the better. We need to make sure the justice system is more sensitive to the realities of poverty, and improve the system to be more fair without sacrificing public safety.
As Attorney General, I will:
- End the cash bail system. People’s bank accounts should not determine whether they remain incarcerated pending trial. Lives are destroyed—jobs lost, families broken up, children hungry—because of the cash bail system. I support the use of a risk-based bail system that considers the risks individuals pose to the safety of the community, not their ability to pay. This will not only be fairer for the accused but also reduce overcrowding in jails and prisons. After all, as many people before me have pointed out, poverty isn’t the lack of character—it is the lack of cash.
- Remove barriers for formerly incarcerated individuals by increasing Medicaid coverage and providing greater access to mental health and substance abuse treatment. Over 90% of the individuals who are incarcerated in Delaware will return to our communities to be our neighbors once again. It is vitally important that we remove the barriers of re-entry that these citizens face. Chief among these barriers is health care. When an individual who is on Medicaid is incarcerated, their Medicaid coverage is terminated—and once released, it can take months to restore coverage. I fought for a correction to this system as State Prosecutor, and as Attorney General I will do everything in my power to ensure individuals will be able to have their Medicaid coverage restored immediately when they return home. Medicaid coverage will provide greater access to mental health and substance abuse treatment. As Attorney General, I will work to remove barriers to successful integration into the community.
- Reduce the recidivism rate. Delaware’s recidivism rate is over 70%. That is unacceptable. My plan to reduce the recidivism rate consists of increasing the availability of job training, education, and career resources for those who are currently incarcerated. I firmly believe that we have an obligation to give everyone the tools necessary to exit the system better off than when they entered. By providing inmates with job training and career resources while incarcerated, they will be better positioned to find a job that can be a means of support when they return home. Through my work as a board member at The Achievement Center, a re-entry center located in Wilmington, I have had the privilege to work with men returning home after a term of incarceration. It has been inspiring to witness the growth and success of individuals who have participated in this re-entry program. I firmly believe in redemption and wholeheartedly embrace the notion that change is possible. As Attorney General, I will advocate for re-entry programs to be expanded to all three counties in our State. Successful reentry programs like The Achievement Center do “in-reach” work, which is performed by a peer support specialist and consists of going into a facility to begin working with individuals while they are still incarcerated. This method of rehabilitation is crucial to the success of these individuals in prison and out. As Attorney General, I will increase services to provide individuals who are incarcerated with important job and life skills that will sustain them once they are released from prison.
- Advocate for more diversion programs to reduce over incarceration. As Attorney General, I will advocate for the increased use of diversion programs that provide treatment in lieu of incarceration. I will work to expand these programs statewide because addiction is a disease and non-violent drug users need rehabilitative services, not incarceration. See more here.
- Hire former offenders into the Department of Justice. We need individuals who are most affected by a system to be a major part of reforming that system. Employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals is critical. It is time we put our money where our mouth is and hire them. This is something I have advocated for in the past, and something that I will make happen as Delaware’s Attorney General.
- Advocate for more judicial discretion and fewer mandatory minimums. We must restore guided judicial discretion and stop the stacking of minimum mandatory sentences. As Attorney General, I will advocate for changes to our criminal code to reduce the stacking of charges on top of one another for a single crime. Our judiciary is recognized as among the best in the country. We need to give judges more discretion, not less, when it comes to sentencing decisions. Context always matters, and inflexible minimums and sentencing guidelines remove context from the process. The judge is in the best position, after hearing from both sides, to determine sentences.
- Expand the expungement process for juveniles and low- level adult offenders. Delaware’s expungement statute currently helps too few people-- especially in low income communities and communities of color. Children and adults who committed nonviolent drug offenses who are working to change their lives for the better can still be trapped in a system of incarceration. The tail of crimes is very long-- long after sentences are complete, the arrests and convictions keep people from acquiring affordable housing and good jobs. By expanding the expungement statute we can help more people become productive members of society, while still making our communities safer. Individuals who are making serious efforts to reform their lives must be given the legal tools to move on from their past mistakes. Giving someone a decent paying job is the best way to reduce crime.