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SB 4 – Criminal Justice Reform of the Probation System

This criminal justice reform bill would comprehensively reform Delaware’s probation system.

Senate Bill 4, introduced Senator Marie Pinkney and Representative Melissa Minor Brown, would restructure Delaware’s probation system in a number of ways, including ending the incarceration of probationers for technical violations and allowing the customization of parole conditions to meet individualized needs. Additionally, the 18-page bill also requires the state to invest in community-based reentry programs and limits probation terms to 1 year.

Specifically, the bill does the following:

  • Ending incarceration of probationers for technical violations.
  • Enabling the customization of conditions of probation to meet individual needs.
  • Requiring the collection and publication of community corrections data.
  • Investing in community-based re-entry programs.
  • Limiting probation terms to 1 year.
  • Requires probation and parole officers to use the least liberty-restrictive means to enhance compliance to conditions.
  • Requires the probation and parole officers not impose special conditions with which a person cannot in good faith comply. Probation and parole officers must also assess whether the person has the necessary resources to comply with the condition.
  • Any proceeds gained from seizures in conducting business with federal authorities must go to contracting with community-based re-entry programs providing evidence-based services.
  • Removes the prohibition on an incarcerated person receiving access to the Department of Correction’s (“Department”) policy & procedure manuals.
  • Removes prohibition on the disclosure of Department policies and procedures except on the written authority of the Commissioner.
  • Requires that a condition of probation established by Department may not involve a greater deprivation of liberty than is necessary to meet the goals of deterrence, protection of the public, and rehabilitation of the person on probation.
  • Prohibits the imposition of a condition of supervision that requires paying court fines, fees, supervision-related fees, and supervision-mandated programs.
  • Authorizes the Department to use alternate methods of reporting such as audiovisual communications.
  • Requires the Department to not pursue sanctions for use of drugs or alcohol, failure to complete a program when the costs were unable to be met, failure to follow conditions when mental health conditions prevent compliance, and failure to comply with broad conditions that are impossible to follow.
  • Requires the Department to bear the cost of house arrest programs.
  • Sets criteria for the use of house arrest.
  • Outlines the process for revoking probation, including the timing of revocation and requirements of revocation proceedings.
  • Requires that incarceration cannot be used for any technical violation and sets a limit on period of incarceration for other violations.
  • Repeals the fee for a person applying for an interstate transfer of probation under the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision.
  • Replaces the forfeiture of earned compliance credit with a process for withholding or revoking earned credits.
  • Repeals certain offenses being excluded from being able to gain earn compliance credit.
  • Requires the Department to provide those on probation with a supervision report with credit earned and time remaining on probation every 90 days.
  • Removes the requirement that individuals on probation or parole must have permission before getting married.
  • Repeals the restriction on the disclosure of public records in the Department’s possession when these records are sought by an inmate in the Department’s custody.
Senate Bill 4 – Criminal Justice Reform of the Probation SystemCurrrent Status – Senate Corrections & Public Safety 3/1/2
House SponsorsMinor-Brown, Morrison, Baumbach, Lynn, Neal, Phillips, Wilson-AntonSenate SponsorsPinkney, Townsend, Gay, Lockman, McBride, Sokola, Sturgeon
House Yes VotesSenate Yes Votes
House No VotesSenate No Votes
House Absents or Not VotingSenate Absent or Not Voting

Here is Senator Marie Pinkney announcing the filing of the bill and explaining it:

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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