Ending the era of mass incarceration means dismantling the tough-on-crime approach and racial bias that has come to define the justice system. That’s why our Campaign for Smart Justice has two primary goals: cutting the prison population by half and challenging the racial bias in the system.
We launched our campaign in 2018, aiming to educate the public about the staggering number of Delaware residents who have been adversely affected by the justice system and how that system disproportionately impacts people of color. Through public education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy, we've challenged the system and created change for individuals, families, and communities.
Since its inception, our campaign has seen some historic successes in reforming Delaware’s justice system. In less than five years, we've helped to pass four bills that expand access to expungement, two bills that address police use of force, and one bill that addresses the use of body-worn cameras.
Here are our Smart Justice priorities for this year:
Police Reform: Advocates with the campaign will focus on amending the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights by passing SB 149. Through advocacy with legislators, public education, community organizing, and partnerships with other organizations, the campaign hopes to see SB 149 become law this year.
Probation Reform: The probation system and its myriad of reporting requirements, meetings, costs for treatment, curfews, and surveillance are insurmountable hurdles for too many people returning home after incarceration. The Delaware Campaign for Smart Justice has been working with people affected by the probation system to get their input on changes needed within the system and partnering with allies to reimagine probation laws – and they will continue to work on advocacy avenues for probation system reform this year.
Clean Slate: This year, on the heels of the Clean Slate legislation passed in 2021, the Clean Slate Delaware campaign will continue to work on expanding access to second chances by providing expungement clinics throughout the state, helping people navigate the record clearance process, and working with community partners as well as legal partners to provide the resources necessary for eligible Delawareans to receive an expungement. Clean Slate Delaware will also continue advocating for the successful implementation of Delaware’s automatic expungement process, which will take effect in August 2024.
Smart Justice Ambassadors: The campaign launched a Smart Justice Ambassador program in 2021 to recruit, train, and empower Delawareans who have been impacted by the justice system. After completing an extensive training that helped the ambassadors grow their advocacy skills, the group continues their work by advocating for legislation, policies and initiatives to reduce the prison population and challenge racial disparities within the justice system.
We invite anyone who has an interest in improving Delaware's justice system to get involved by joining a volunteer Smart Justice chapter.
There are currently three active volunteer chapters in each of Delaware’s three counties. Monthly chapter meetings offer members of communities the opportunity to:
- Stay informed on justice reform in Delaware;
- Discuss perspectives on issues and solutions for Smart Justice;
- Identify action items to help the Delaware Campaign for Smart Justice; and,
- Find other ways to advocate for justice reform.
Find out when your county’s next meeting is by visiting our events page.
Stay up to date on our campaign by visiting the campaign hub page and signing up for our email list.