Top to bottom review will focus on Delaware’s system of criminal justice and corrections

Delaware will undertake a federally-funded review of the efficiency and effectiveness of its criminal justice system, from the time of an arrest to sentencing and incarceration. 

Governor Jack Markell says the state sought to answer a few key questions:  “One is, can we do a better job in the criminal justice system?  And secondly, are we prepared to talk about how we spend our public safety dollars and how we can best spend public safety dollars to improve public safety?”

The Delaware Criminal Justice Council organized an effort across several state departments to support the mission of improving criminal justice.  Delaware has now been selected by the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance to get federal support for what is known as the Justice Reinvestment Initiative.

“Over the next six months the state is going to receive technical assistance to help us do a top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top of our criminal justice system,” Markell added.  “This technical assistance is going to be paid for by the federal government.”

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Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn will chair the Justice Reinvestment Task Force, which will partner with the Vera Institute of Justice to identify and recommend reforms aimed at improving public safety and avoiding cost increases.  Denn said the goal is “figuring out ways we can use the precious resources that we have to keep our citizens safer and to allow them to lead richer and happier lives.”

“Not only will it enlighten our legislators as they make budget priorities and decisions, but it enlightens us as prosecutors as we try to make the right decisions for the offender, for society and for everybody else,” Chief Deputy Attorney General Charles Butler said.  

The Vera Institute for Justice, a non-profit center for justice policy and practice, will work with Delaware’s 18-member task force to undertake the evaluation.  It is  expected  to last until the end of the year.

According to state figures, Delaware spends about $250 million a year on correctional operations, $130 million to fund the Delaware State Police, and millions of more dollars on the courts, juvenile justice and other services related to crime and crime prevention.  

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