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Two more criminal justice bills go to Gov. Carney

Tom Byrne
Delaware Public Media

The General Assembly is sending more criminal justice legislation to Gov. John Carney.

House lawmakers passed two bills Wednesday making it easier for people to expunge some criminal records and removing some aggravating factors used in sentencing drug crimes.

State Sen. Darius Brown’s  (D-Wilmington) bill would allow automatic expungements for some misdemeanors. Those not eligible can ask a court to seal their records. It passed 35-5.

State Rep. Sean Lynn (D-Dover) said this is similar to what lawmakers have done for juvenile offenders.

“Over the years, we’ve expanded the availability of expungement of juvenile adjudications of delinquency quite dramatically in recognition that people can and do change and do move beyond the mistakes of the past,” he said.

State Sen. Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman’s (D-Wilmington) legislation eliminates some factors that make drug crime sentences longer in urban areas than in rural areas. It also gives judges more discretion in sentencing repeat offenders. It passed 28-12.

State Rep. Charles Postles (R-Milford) voted no on both bills. He said he worries they reduce deterrents to commit crimes.

“And that means if you commit the crime, there needs to be some consequences to that,” he said.

Carney signed legislation this week that allows judges more discretion to give concurrent rather than consecutive sentences for some crimes.

The bills are part of a package of 19 criminal justice reform bills introduced in March.

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