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New court in Wilmington seeks to offer jobs instead of jail time

A new court in Wilmington is meant to help low-level defendants find jobs.

The Delaware Courts and the state Department of Labor announced phase one of the Wilmington Community Court and the start of a community resources center at the Leonard L. Williams Justice Center.

The new court’s goal is to favor low-level sentences that include community service, employment programs and treatment programs, over fines and jail time. 

The resource center will have Labor Dept. officials on site to help with resumes, resource pamphlets and a “job bank” posting listings with area employers.

Minda Thompson is a Planner and Coordinator for the community court. She says the court addresses the underlying issues driving criminal acts.

“And so if we get to address those underlying issues, I think we will knock down recidivism and, like, better the community as a whole,” said Thompson. 

Officials say the Delaware Court of Common Pleas will be the first to make referrals to the community resources center.  Several other courts plan to join in the next year. A physical space for community court is expected to be up and running next year.

Statewide Problem Solving Court Coordinator Brenda Wise says the court offers an option for some defendants to avoid criminal court. 

“The majority of the cases, if you do everything you’re supposed to, it’s ‘non-prossed,’ which means it’s dismissed basically, and you’re able to move forward. So it’s kind of up to the person if they’re able to commit to doing these services,” said Wise.

The resources center is now open to the general public. It does not require a visitor be a defendant or otherwise involved in the court system to access its resources.

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