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Two bills introduced to make it more difficult for violent offenders to post bail

Two pieces of legislation introduced in the Delaware Senate seek to keep violent criminals locked up until their trial.

Senate Bill 7 would set secured cash bail as the standard for a list of 38 offenses including domestic violence, rape and child sexual abuse.

A judge would have to give reason for allowing someone convicted of these crimes to be released on bond. The bill also requires an automatic secondary bail review hearing in Delaware Superior Court for defendants charged with the offenses listed in the legislation.

“This is a bill about public safety, because we’ve all heard stories about lenient bail rulings for violent or repeat offenders,” said SB 7 co-sponsor state Sen. Spiros Mantzavinos.    

Senate Bill 11 would amend Delaware’s Constitution to allow judges to withhold bail completely if there is clear and convincing evidence a defendant presents a danger to public safety. 

The News Journal reports the man suspected of murdering his wife and her friend this week in a double murder suicide in Smyrna was out on bail for a violent offense.

Mantzavinos says it’s not certain whether or not these pieces of legislation would have kept that suspect in jail pending trial.

“Discretion is still allowed to the judges, but we are providing some more straight forward guidance to say when we’re dealing with offenses that are listed in this bill, there really needs to be a higher presumption when it comes to cash bail,” he said.    

The measures have bipartisan support and the backing of state Attorney General Kathy Jennings—who supports ending cash bail all together.

“In a just system, nobody would be in jail for low-level offenses simply because of their poverty, and no dangerous criminals would walk free just because of their wealth,” said Jennings in a statement.

SB 7 has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee while SB 11 has been assigned to the Senate Executive Committee.

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