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ACLU calls for more criminal justice reform from General Assembly

The ACLU of Delaware is pushing for more changes to the state’s criminal justice system.

First State lawmakers passed 11 bills related to criminal justice during the first half of the current legislative session. These included measures expanding expungement access, eliminating mandatory consecutive sentencing and changing sentencing laws for drug offenses.

But the ACLU has a list of additional criminal justice reform priorities it wants considered when the legislature returns to session in January. ACLU Delaware’s Campaign for Smart Justice Manager Erica Marshall says there’s still more work to do.

“What we’re really trying to do at the Coalition for Smart Justice is cut Delaware’s prison population in half and challenge those racial disparities in the system,” said Marshall.   

Marshall points out that while African Americans make up 22% of Delaware’s overall population, the group makes up 60% of the state’s prison population.

Marshall says her coalition is trying to push through a bill sponsored by state Sen. Darius Brown (D-2) to change laws related to fines and fees.

“Which would stop the criminalization of poverty and allow people who can’t afford to pay their fines and fees not to get automatically get re-arrested for that. And then stop the automatic suspension of driver’s licenses, for example,” said Marshall.   

Marshall says the ACLU also wants the state to collect and make public more criminal justice data, remove drug crimes from the violent felony list and raise the minimum age of prosecution to 12.

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