The ACLU of Delaware recently launched an Ambassador Program for the Delaware Campaign for Smart Justice.
The Ambassador Program is designed to recruit, train and empower Delawareans impacted by the legal system.
“We’re really looking to recruit 20 impacted people across the State and give them the tools necessary to be able advocate for legislation, policy….anything that will help reduce the prison population and help reduce racial disparities within the criminal justice system,” said Haneef Salaam, campaign manager for the program.
He notes that passage of the Clean Slate Act, creating a system for automatic expungement of criminal records for people applying for housing or jobs - left over 290,000 Delawareans with a criminal record eligible for expungement.
Salaam believes the numbers are high due to over-policing - especially in Black and Brown communities.
He also argues that a large racial disparity in Delaware’s criminal justice system increases the number of people incarcerated for minor charges.
Smart Ambassador training takes place on October 2nd and 3rd in Dover. More information on how to apply is available here.
Salaam says the two-day training will focus on various skills.
“Individuals will be able to learn the importance of community organizing and influencing legislators - among other things - so that they can be effective community advocates and they can be ambassadors for Smart Justice and they will know how to organize for issues important to them," Salaam said,
Salaam says the best way a person impacted by the legal system can influence legislators is learning how to tell “their” story effectively.
The program has slots for 20 participants and Salaam says most of the applications so far have come from Kent County residents.