Delaware General Assembly Pre-Game Show: Tues., Jan. 16, 2018

Filed in Delaware, Featured by on January 16, 2018

Bail Reform is today’s big deal in Dover. Why is it a big deal? Because the ability or inability to make bail for non-violent offenses is often the difference between being able to work and care for a family or sinking into an economic black hole. While a well-heeled drug dealer pays bail and moves on (and sometimes out of state) without a second glance, someone held on a possession charge remains in jail.  HB 204 (Rep. J. J. Johnson) seeks to rectify that basic inequity. From the synopsis:

An analysis of data for pretrial detention and bail shows that Delaware’s bail system is failing in two ways: we unnecessarily detain individuals who lack funds for their release, and on the other end of the spectrum, we release defendants who fail to appear or remain law abiding during their period of pretrial release.

This bill is not a panacea, but represents significant progress in moving away from the ‘lock ’em all up’ mentality that grew out of the so-called ‘War On Drugs’ that was implemented by the most regressive troglodytes in Dover–Tom Sharp, Wayne Smith, Jim Vaughn and then-AG Jane Brady. It is a consensus-driven bill developed by law enforcement, the courts, the AG’s office, the Public Defenders Office, and others.  Here’s what the bill would do:

Specifically, this Act makes the following changes to the bail/pretrial process: – Use risk to determine conditions: Require courts to consider risk by using empirically-based tools to determine whether a defendant is likely to stay out of trouble and come to court, and use that information to make individualized “assignments” of conditions of release. – Defines purpose of release conditions: Limit conditions of release to things that will reasonably assure the defendant will show up in court, and protect victims, witnesses, and community members. – Create more opportunities for conditions to be added or removed: Make release conditions “living documents” that will automatically be reviewed if a defendant does not initially meet them, if a defendant does meet them and then violates those terms, or if the defendant or their custodian makes a motion to modify those conditions. – Empower pretrial officers: Gives Department of Corrections more tools to investigate and address violations of release conditions so the courts can address violations promptly and impose sanctions if necessary. This bill further requires the court to conduct a review of conditions of pretrial release for a defendant who remains detained after 72 hours from the defendant’s initial presentment because of inability to meet any condition of release (including a financial condition). Such a review must happen within ten days of detention.

So, you can see that this is not a ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card. But it’s a marked improvement.

The bill passed the House by a 38-3 vote.  With the police and the Department of Correction on board, I see no reason why this shouldn’t pass the Senate.  We’ll keep a close eye on who votes no.

I just have to say this: Something this fair-minded could never have passed the General Assembly twenty years ago.  This is genuine progress. If you haven’t done so already, contact your Senator and urge them to vote for this bill.

HB 204 is the only bill on today’s Senate Agenda.

Today’s House Agenda  features one bill of note:  The ‘Turn The Schools Into Impenetrable Edifices Act’ of 2018.  Since the General Assembly will do next to nothing to stop the flow of dangerous weapons to the most deranged among us, we must apparently limit the damage these would-be mass killers can do.  HB 49 (Jaques) ‘requires all new school construction or major renovation to include the following features: an intruder alarm, bulletproof glass in entrance areas and interior doors and windows, and doors lockable with keys on both sides’.  Hmmm, might be time to invest in one of those bulletproof glass companies. I wonder if any legislator’s family has an interest in such an enterprise…

Oh, before I forget, HB 260 (Longhurst), which creates a new Grants-In-Aid Committee separate from the Joint Finance Committee, unanimously passed the House last Thursday. And why not? While, yes, the newly-created committee will not have the same time constraints that the JFC did in considering grants requests, the members of this new committee will be able to deliver checks to entities within the confines of the their respective districts. What’s not to like?

I’ll be back tomorrow with a preview of committee meetings. And, coming Thursday, the State Of The State.

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  1. “Hmmm, might be time to invest in one of those bulletproof glass companies. I wonder if any legislator’s family has an interest in such an enterprise…”

    Which legislator?

  2. No idea. It’s just the cynic in me musing out loud.

  3. bamboozer says:

    Notice that whenever the politicians pass a bill the first reaction is to wonder what politician or their family is benefitting from it. Perhaps we could call it The Roger Roy Syndrome.

  4. Dave says:

    I support this bill in principle, but I kind of get a little confused when I see things like “empirically-based tools to determine whether a defendant is likely to stay out of trouble and come to court.” The only empirical data available is past performance and current situation. I would be happier if they were a little more specific about the empirical tool stuff.

    Also, regarding the ” so the courts can address violations promptly and impose sanctions if necessary.” If you just look at the DUI and the plethora of many time offenders, the courts little authority or interest in imposing sanctions. I would prefer to see some specific sanctions and then give the courts the latitude not too impose those sanctions in extenuating circumstances.

  5. Actually, the News Journal is reporting this:

    Carney couldn’t bring himself to reappoint Patrice Gilliam-Johnson for over a year, appoints Cade within a week of her accepting a job at Del State.

    Did he get the go-ahead from Nicole Poore and Tiny Tony before handing Cerron the keys? Did Cerron have to promise to keep Poore and Tony happy before he got the job?

  6. jason330 says:

    Strange. I didn’t notice Nicole or Tony mentioned….

    I kid, of course.

  7. mediawatch says:

    This will be Cade’s fourth assignment in the year that Carney has been governor. Maybe he will be a good selection, but he hasn’t stayed in any position long enough to qualify for a Manager of the Quarter award.

  8. SussexWatcher says:

    Cerron Cade is 33 years old and has never held a job in the private sector. He was Carney’s political guy (and how much effort does it take to manage a cakewalk campaign?) who was given the job as DEDO deputy to oversee its dismantling. But I bet he’s going to preside over a 400+ person agency dealing with complex issues and ongoing legal challenges with great skill and poise. /s

    It appears from the News-Journal story that his primary qualification is being acceptable to the ministers who have learned they can hold the state hostage by making enough noise and raising hell.

    Quite a plum reward for loyal staff service! But that’s the Carney way – how he got his job as finance secretary, after all.

  9. jason330 says:

    The Jaques bill is an idiotic waste of money from a guy who wants to look like he has done something when he actually hasn’t.

  10. The Bail Reform bill passed the Senate and heads to the governor. Vote was 15-5 with one Not Voting. 5 No’s were Bonini, Hocker, Lawson, Richardson and Simpson. Pettyjohn went not voting, perhaps because he has faced the prospect of bail first-hand.

  11. chris says:

    Cade is 33 years old? Is that a record for youngest Labor secretary in history of Delaware? Losing Ms Patrice Gilliam was a huge loss to DOL.

  12. Bane says:

    Probably… Also is a millennial. Changing of the guard?

    I thought Eugene could run the city of wilmingron at 34; this guys has as strong, if not a stronger resume than Young does. Why not? If Carney hired an old union hack I would have a problem. At least this is a young political hack; But I hear good things, so I’m interested.

  13. Scuttlebutt302 says:

    Cerron Cade will do for Labor what Collin O’Mara did for our environment!

  14. I’ve spoken to Cerron Cade, and I think he’s a real sharp guy. He’s not gonna let civil rights complaints get dumped in the trash. Of course, he’ll need someone other than Tiny Tony to ensure that there is genuine enforcement. DeLuca turned ‘dumping civil rights complaints into the trash’ his personal cause celebre.

    Regardless, Carney leaving Gilliam-Johnson twisting in the wind was unconscionable. And it was due to Nicole Poore and the Napoleonic Martinet. Let’s watch and see what happens to Jobs For Delaware Hacks and Tiny Tony’s sinecure now.