What is the Delaware Coalition for Smart Justice?

The Delaware Coalition for Smart Justice is a statewide group of organizations and individuals who advocate for a criminal justice system that fosters public safety by reducing mass incarceration, recidivism and racial disparities. We use public education, community organizing and grass roots advocacy to challenge the system and create change that will have a significant impact on individuals, families and communities.

We have two main goals: cut the prison population in half and reduce racial disparities in Delaware’s criminal justice system.

Members include: ACLU of Delaware, Campaign for Smart Justice, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Coalition to Dismantle the New Jim Crow, Community Legal Aid Society, Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network, Delaware Center for Justice, Delaware Civil Rights Coalition, Delaware United, H.E.A.D.S. U.P. in the 302, League of Women Voters Delaware, Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League, NAACP Delaware State Conference, Network Delaware, Network Delaware's Reproductive Justice Campaign, Pacem in Terris, Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice, Westminster Presbyterian Church Peace and Justice Work Group, Chris Johnson, Kerri Evelyn-Harris Criminal Justice Committee, Wilmington Hope Commission, Unitarian Universalist Delaware Advocacy Network

Coalition for Smart Justice 2019 Priorities

  • Revise drug statutes to remove location-based enhancements for all drug crimes, change the quantity tiering structure to make it less arbitrary so it reflects actual use patterns, remove mandatory minimums, and remove drug offenses from the violent felony list (a classification that all but guarantees a longer sentence regardless of whether any force was actually used in commission of the crime).

  • Amend the sentencing modification statute to allow for release of individuals who are not a significant public safety threat and/or may be eligible for compassionate release, such as elderly and ill inmates.

  • Modify the use of fines/fees by requiring judges to do an ability to pay analysis, eliminate driver's license revocation and eliminate the use of warrants for failure to pay so that people unable to pay fines arising from even small offenses aren’t forever haunted by making one mistake.

  • Give more people a second chance through an expungement bill that will allow the clearing of isolated or old charges from an adult’s criminal record.

  • Improve criminal justice data transparency on issues such as the imposition of fines and fees, charging, prosecution, sentencing, and incarceration through the collection and release of criminal justice data so we can better understand the drivers of racial disparities and how reform efforts are working.

  • Allow concurrent sentencing for most criminal laws instead of requiring sentences for certain cases with more than one charge to run consecutively (one after another), which has the effect of weighting the plea bargaining process heavily in favor of prosecutors and removing discretion from judges.

To learn more about the Coalition for Smart Justice contact Erica Marshall, Campaign for Smart Justice Manager, at emarshall@aclu-de.org.

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