Update: This Letter is Published on page A 6 of the Delaware State News of 1/20/19!  See it Here 

This excellent commentary by my friend and super attorney Sean Lynn is right on point. But there is so much more which can be done.  

He should move swiftly on expungements. Some 70 million adult Americans have a criminal record. I happen to specialize in applications for expungements and for pardons, here and in other states. In Delaware, if you have a felony record, before you can get an expungement you first must get a pardon, a long and costly process. It is absurd.

To those who say things like “we should not so readily wipe the record clean”, let me remind you that we are simply talking about the ability to apply; a judge must still make a wise and fair decision.  Also, even after an expungement, law enforcement still has access to the criminal record of the person for whom an expungement was granted.

Another area where we should move quickly is releasing harmless inmates. There are hundreds, yes hundreds, of inmates too ill to do any harm, even if they wanted to! In wheelchairs, blind or nearly blind! They should be released! Each one is costing you well over $100,000 annually to house, due to medical costs.  The current D O C “POPS” program, designed to address this problem,  is a joke. A handful – fewer than 5 – have been released using that. I remind you that D O C personnel have an interest in opposing needed reforms, and their union actively does thwart needed changes. For them, it is job preservation, not justice.

Excerpts from the Article:

The new year brings feelings of hope and optimism, and we make resolutions regarding our happiness, lifestyle and relationships. While there are a variety of reforms set to take place this session, such as improving access to voting and enshrining the historic Delaware Equal Rights Amendment in our state constitution, I am taking this time to lay out solutions to our criminal justice system.

Just as we give ourselves clean slates at the start of every year, I want to ensure that those who may have made mistakes in the past are not hindered in their abilities to succeed in the future.

There are a variety of steps we can take this session to fix our broken criminal justice system. A major issue is our overflowing prison population. We’ve made progress in adjusting Delaware’s cash bail policy so each person is treated individually, and not unfairly incarcerated simply for failing to have the funds to post bail. Criminalizing poverty is immoral and no way to run a state.

Building on that work, we should look at reducing the prison population by exploring sentence modification in specific situations in which the incarcerated individual is no longer a danger to society.

As we work to reduce the prison population, we must look at the support systems in society that an individual comes home to. We need to create expungement policies that are easier to navigate for both adults and juveniles.

This year, I’m considering legislation that would give more adults the opportunity to seek a second chance and gain meaningful employment. Expungements free people from the constraints of having a damaging record, and we should be streamlining that process and improving access to those with limited resources.

Lastly, young people in contact with the judicial system are vulnerable, and each interaction impacts their progress. In the past, we have ignored the effects of publicizing alleged juvenile criminal activity on social media. This session, I plan to introduce legislation to raise the age at which a juvenile’s information and photo could be published by the state and address when that information is shared online.

We are at a crossroads regarding criminal justice. With one of the largest incoming classes in the General Assembly, we have an opportunity to make sweeping and influential changes to the criminal justice system that will give all Delawareans a chance to succeed and thrive for years to come.

The Whole Story

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Letter to the Editor – Time for Common Sense Reform – 1/14/19

An excellent commentary by attorney Sean Lynn (https://delawarestatenews.net/opinion/commentary-new-year-new-session-new-vision-for-criminal-justice-reform/  ) is right on point. But there is so much more which can be done.

He should move swiftly on expungements. Some 70 million adult Americans have a criminal record. I happen to specialize in applications for expungements and for pardons, here and in other states. In Delaware, if you have a felony record, before you can get an expungement you first must get a pardon, a long and costly process. It is absurd.

To those who say things like “we should not so readily wipe the record clean”, let me remind you that we are simply talking about the ability to apply; a judge must still make a wise and fair decision. Also, even after an expungement, law enforcement still has access to the criminal record of the person for whom an expungement was granted.

Another area where we should move quickly is releasing harmless inmates. There are hundreds, yes hundreds, of inmates too ill to do any harm, even if they wanted to! In wheelchairs, blind or nearly blind! They should be released ASAP! Each one is costing you well over $100,000 annually to house, due to medical costs. The current D O C “POPS” program, designed to address this problem, is a joke. A handful – fewer than 5 – have been released using that. I remind you that D O C personnel have an interest in opposing needed reforms, and their union actively does thwart needed changes. For them, it is job preservation, not justice.

In 2018, 30 states and the District of Columbia produced 56 separate laws aimed at reducing barriers faced by people with criminal records in the workplace, at the ballot box, and elsewhere. Many of these new laws enacted more than one type of reform. 96% of all inmates will be released, and Mr. Lynn understands that when we help them reenter society we help our communities.

Ken Abraham, former Deputy Attorney General, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302-423-4067

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I get lots of letters published, and ghost write for others. THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO REACH THOUSANDS OF READERS! The keys to getting your Letter published are:
1. Keep it to 250 words or fewer.
2. Do not make it about “poor little old me”. Describe the problem as one which not only affects the individual, but is a senseless or ineffective measure, policy, or law which also harms communities and society. For example, with reentry, the obstacles make it unnecessarily difficult for the individual, but also harm society by making it hard to become productive, spending money and paying taxes in the community, and they cause increased recidivism = increased crime.
3. Speak from your heart.
4. Google any facts you are not sure about.
5. Do not name-call.
Do what works: Write that Letter!
…………
Letter to Editor – sign name, town, state, and your phone number (they often call to verify that you sent it), and “Member of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE” if you like – shows you are part of a large group.
Send the email to yourself, and put on the “bcc” bar the email addresses for Letters to the Editor for the top ten newspapers in your state and several national ones – The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, U S A Today (google the Letter to Editor email addresses). Any questions, CALL me at 302-423-4067!
GOOGLE THE EMAIL ADDRESSES FOR “LETTERS TO THE EDITOR” FOR THE TOP TEN NEWSPAPERS IN YOUR STATE AND SAVE THAT INFORMATION FOR REPEATED USE – Some papers will print a letter from you every 2 weeks, some every 30 days, some every 90 days. They have varying policies. But if you really want to make a difference shoot them a new letter once a month! I send one out every 2 weeks.
Need a Letter on some criminal justice issue and not a great letter writer? NO EXCUSE! Email me a rough draft and call me and I’ll polish it up! kenabraham3138@gmail.com .
ANY QUESTIONS, CALL ME AT 302-423-4067.