Bail reform in Delaware, and the news in criminal justice this week

“The amount of money in your pocket isn’t what determines whether you’re languishing in jail.”

Bail reform legislation passed the Delaware House and Senate this week and is expected to be signed by Governor Carney. The bill, which passed despite opposition from the bail bond industry, would introduce risk-assessment tools and encourage the use of pretrial release conditions rather than jail.

“We’re convinced juvenile justice reform is the right answer for Tennessee.”

Following the release of the Tennessee Juvenile Justice Task Force report, Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris called for significant reforms, starting this year. The task force, which examined the state’s juvenile justice system and best practices from states who have already implemented reforms, recommended a host of policies to prevent juvenile system involvement, focus system resources on high-risk individuals, and provide greater oversight and accountability.

“It’s a second chance. I think we’re proving ourselves out there to be pretty solid workers.”

With a national unemployment rate of 4.1%, and some local rates closer to 2%, employers are increasingly open to workers with criminal records. An analysis of job-market data by Burning Glass Technologies showed a decline in job postings requiring criminal background checks, from 8.9% in 2014 to 7.9% in 2016. Steady, meaningful employment for those with a record can not only fulfill employer needs, boosting our economy, but it can stop the cycle of recidivism in its tracks.

“Imprisonment in many states and the nation as a whole has long since passed the point of diminishing returns.”

Analysis from the Pew Charitable Trusts showed that, between 2008 and 2016, 35 states cut their crime and imprisonment rates simultaneously;  21 of those states showed double-digit declines in both rates. In the twelve states where imprisonment rates grew, crime rates fell more slowly, on average, than in states with the largest declines in imprisonment. 

"We’re looking at the impact to community and the economy by not trying to lock everybody up."

Florida’s Legislature is considering more and more bills that will right-size their prison system and bring more opportunities to the state to cut crime and cut taxpayer costs. Bipartisan teams of legislative leaders are looking at updating Florida’s nation-lagging felony theft laws, as well as reforms to mandatory minimums and pretrial practices, issues with broad bipartisan support from Florida’s voters as well.