Note: This page is part of the Governor's News Archive, which holds press releases from January 2009 through September 2011. Since October 2011, recent news can be found in the Newsroom and archived news is available at news.delaware.gov.
July 25, 2011
Governor Announces Bipartisan Effort to Improve Public Safety Efficiency & Effectiveness
Executive, legislative and judicial task force to be led by Lieutenant Governor Denn, and assisted by U.S. Department of Justice and Vera Institute of Justice
Governor Jack Markell today announced that the State will undertake a comprehensive examination of the Delaware criminal justice system to identify opportunities to improve public safety and ensure public resources are spent efficiently and effectively – an undertaking known as the Justice Reinvestment Initiative.
The Governor also announced that the State of Delaware has been selected by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, to receive federally funded technical support for its Justice Reinvestment Initiative through the Vera Institute of Justice.
The Initiative will be led by a Justice Reinvestment Task Force that will be bi-partisan, multi-disciplinary, and representative of all three branches of government. Governor Markell today signed Executive Order 27 to create that Task Force, which will be led by Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn.
“We are looking at our public safety spending, and asking ‘How can we improve safety for Delawareans by using taxpayer money more wisely?’ We are focused on becoming more effective and efficient by identifying new strategies to reduce crime, prevent recidivism, and limit the growth of the prison population,” said Markell. “But there is only one way that this gets done – and that is with everyone at the table.”
The Task Force will partner with the Vera Institute of Justice to recommend concrete reforms to improve public safety and avoid further costs increases.
"Justice Reinvestment is an important investment of resources that will help us create a comprehensive view of Delaware's approaches to law enforcement and criminal justice," said Lt. Governor Matt Denn, who also chairs the Criminal Justice Council. "This bipartisan and cooperative partnership will provide lasting results to help better serve and protect Delawareans. I'd like to thank Drew Fennell and her staff for their hard work through the highly competitive application process and getting us to the significant data collection phase."
The Criminal Justice Council, led by Executive Director Drewry Fennell has been working with Delaware stakeholders – judges, legislators, prosecutors, defense lawyers, police, and the Department of Corrections – to establish the partnership with the Vera Institute, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Vera Institute will provide technical assistance to develop a statewide policy framework, including concrete reforms to improve public safety and avoid further cost increases.
“This is a top-to-bottom effort to evaluate our criminal justice system, and the courts play a key role at every level,” said Justice Carolyn Berger, who represented the Delaware Supreme Court at the announcement. “My fellow judges and I look forward to working with the Task Force and contributing the Bench’s perspective.”
“When the corrections population and recidivism rates continue to rise along with prosecutions and convictions, it's clear that we cannot arrest our way out of the problem,” said Attorney General Beau Biden. “We must work collaboratively to find innovative solutions that not only reform the criminal justice system, but also rebuild the community where it has been hit the hardest by violence, drugs, and revolving-door incarceration. Across the country, the Justice Reinvestment Initiative is reducing prison populations, saving taxpayers money, and reinvigorating neighborhoods that desperately need change. I believe we can transform Delaware, as well.”
“We are continuously searching for ways to be more efficient in our effort to keep the public safe,” said Department of Correction Commissioner Carl Danberg. “By taking a more comprehensive approach across government, this is a great opportunity to identify ways to reduce recidivism and reduce the pressures on our prisons, while maintaining our focus on improving public safety.”
In addition to working across government branches, Delaware legislators are taking a bipartisan approach.
“We address criminal justice issues every day in the General Assembly, but usually on an issue-by-issue basis,” said Rep. Melanie George, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. “This Initiative allows us to take a step back, and look at the whole picture. I think we have a chance to make a real difference in public safety, and I look forward to working with the Task Force to make that happen.”
Minority Leader Rep. Gregory F. Lavelle stated, "This is a massive undertaking and I appreciate the opportunity to be part of this process. This is a critical initiative that will likely have significant budgetary and policy impacts. I look forward to working with all the stakeholders involved in order to begin a complete overview of our corrections system, allowing us to fully examine what Delaware is doing well and what areas need improvement."
Delaware’s Congressional Delegation has also been supportive.
"Ensuring the safety of Delawareans is one of my top priorities. So is using taxpayer dollars as efficiently and effectively as possible. This task force will address both of these key priorities by looking for ways to control costs and improve the quality of Delaware's justice services," said Senator Tom Carper. "That's a win-win for Delaware as we work together to identify ways to better protect and serve the public."
"This collaborative effort to improve Delaware's public safety is a major step in the right direction," said Senator Chris Coons, a member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. "We must continue to work together to ensure that Delaware's law enforcement agencies and prisons have the resources they need to keep our community safe."
“It’s very important that we continue finding more efficient ways to provide the services that people depend on,” said Congressman John Carney. “Incorporating new, proven strategies into the state’s corrections system can help reduce crime, decrease recidivism rates, and make our neighborhoods safer. I look forward to this collaboration and am confident it will have positive results for the people of Delaware.”
To learn more about Justice Reinvestment, please visit: http://www.justicereinvestment.org/
About the Vera Institute of Justice: