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State lawmakers send 11 criminal justice bills to Gov. Carney this year

Tom Byrne
Delaware Public Media

State lawmakers sent Gov. John Carney 11 pieces of legislation revamping the criminal justice system this year.

Carney already signed two of the bills. The first one - sponsored by State Sen. Darius Brown - allows people convicted of certain misdemeanors to more easily get their records expunged.

Carney also signed House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst’s measure giving judges greater discretion to sentence defendants concurrently rather than consecutively for some offenses.

Democratic state lawmakers announced a slate of 19 criminal justice bills in March, with 17 ultimately introduced. Longhurst said she’s happy with what was accomplished this year.

“It was very bipartisan, it was like no brainers for both sides of the aisle to say ‘You know what, let’s work through this, let’s get this done,'” she said.

Other criminal justice bills waiting for the governor’s signature include decriminalizing possession of alcohol and cannabis by minors.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf echoed Longhurst on state lawmakers passing nearly a dozen bills revising laws for youth and adult offenders was one of lawmakers’ top accomplishments.

“We had a pretty big year with the criminal justice reform," he said. "We had bipartisan support for most of the measures. And we had a real good session with the Republicans. It was pretty much a team all year long.”

Carney hedged a bit when asked if he will sign the decriminalization bills. But he said criminalizing youthful mistakes can be impediments for young people. A spokesman for Carney said he's expected to sign both pieces of legislation.

Five of the criminal justice measures stalled in the House and one is stuck in a Senate committee. They can all still be worked next year.

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