PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEATTORNEY GENERAL JANE BRADY
MAKING GOVERNMENT MORE EFFICIENT
INTERNET PUBLICATION OF BID REQUESTS AND HEARING NOTICES
Whenever the State solicits a bid for a contract to provide goods or services, it is required by law to publish notice of the solicitation in two newspapers. The State is similarly required to publish notice of all public hearings. This bill permits use of the Internet as a means to modernize the notice requirements for procurement bids and public hearings. This bill will allow Internet publication, via a dedicated State web site, for newspaper publication. Estimates by the State Budget office are that savings to the State will exceed $1,000,000 every year.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM REFORM
The Delaware Constitution gives the Governor the authority to grant a pardon to any person convicted of a crime upon the recommendation of the Board of Pardons. Though it is generally understood that a pardon restores the grantee's civil rights, the Delaware Code does not specifically delineate the extent to which one's civil rights are restored by a pardon. This bill will resolve the confusion and ambiguity surrounding the issue by making it clear that all civil rights are restored by a pardon unless the Delaware Constitution or a provision of the Code expressly provided to the contrary. Among the civil rights restored by a pardon that are specifically recognized by the bill are the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury, the right to possess a deadly weapon and (in some instances) the right to seek and hold public office.
PROTECTING THE PUBLIC
STRENGTHENING THE ABILITY OF THE
POLICE TO INVESTIGATE SEX CRIMES
In certain limited circumstances, and with the approval of a Judge, Delaware law permits the police to intercept electronic communications made by suspects during the course of a criminal investigation. Under current law, the crime under investigation must be a murder, kidnapping, robbery, assault or a gambling offense. The Attorney General's proposal will give the police a powerful new tool to be used in the fight against child pornography and child sexual abuse by permitting the interception of electronic communications made by individuals suspected of sexual solicitation of a child, creating or distributing child pornography or rape.
PROTECTING PUBLIC OFFICIALS FROM THREATS OF VIOLENCE
Threats of violence against public officials can significantly disrupt the ability of our government to function efficiently. Under current law, such threats are punishable only as misdemeanors. The proposed legislation will reclassify such threats as felonies punishable by up to three years imprisonment. Rep. Thornburg and Sen. Cook are the prime sponsors of this bill, which has been introduced as H.B. 34. Voted out of committee in the House on 4-10-03.
PROTECTING VICTIMS AND PUBLIC SAFETY WORKERS FROM COMMUNICABLE DISEASES
Victims of crime and police, fire, paramedic and other public safety workers who protect all of us have a right to be free from worry about the transmission of communicable blood-borne diseases as the result of criminal activity. This bill will expand Delaware's existing laws permitting the testing of criminal defendants for such diseases to permit the court to order the defendant to submit to blood tests in any case in which a victim or public safety worker (including paramedics) was potentially exposed to a blood-borne communicable disease.
THE PUBLIC FROM REPEAT DRUNK DRIVERS
This bill will require the court to prohibit any person charged with felony Driving Under the Influence from driving a motor vehicle as a condition of bail. By definition these drivers have multiple prior D.U.I. convictions and consequently often do not have a valid driver's license at the time of the latest offense. By requiring a "no driving" bail condition in addition to the administrative loss of license, a person who drives in violation of the court order can be quickly brought before the Superior Court for immediate review of bail, contempt proceedings, or felony prosecution under this criminal code, thereby removing a potentially-lethal menace from our streets. This bill has been introduced as S.B. 28. Sen. Blevins and Rep. Wagner are the prime sponsors. Voted out of committee in the Senate on 4-2-03.
PROTECTING THE PUBLIC FROM DRUGGED DRIVERS
Criminals who drive after ingesting illegal drugs are a clear threat to the safety of everyone who shares the road with them. Under current law it is difficult to successfully prosecute such cases because of the scientific issues concerning how much of a given illegal drug is required to establish that the offender is driving under the influence. This is an unnecessary impediment to law enforcement because any amount of an illegal drug in a person's system is evidence of a crime. This bill will establish that the presence of any amount of an illegal drug in a person's system is sufficient to establish the crime of Driving Under the Influence.
HOLDING CRIMINALS ACCOUNTABLE
PUNISHING CORPORATIONS CONVICTED OF CRIMES
The provisions of Delaware's Criminal Code
pertaining to the available sentences when corporations are convicted of crimes
are seriously outdated. By law, the maximum fine that can be imposed upon
a corporation convicted of committing a felony is $11,500. Obviously, this
amount is insufficient to adequately punish or deter a large corporation. The
Act will give Judges the flexibility to impose fines upon corporations in an
amount sufficient to ensure that the punishment will fit the crime. In
cases involving pecuniary gain to the corporation or pecuniary loss or damage to
a victim or victims, the bill will authorize Judges to fine the defendant
corporation an amount equal to 3 times the value of its ill-gotten gains or 3
times the pecuniary loss or damage incurred to the victims. Sen. Marshall
and Rep. Cathcart are the prime sponsors of the bill, which has been introduced
as S.B. 31. Voted out of committee in the Senate on 4-10-03.
It is a fundamental principle of justice that victims of crime who suffer an economic loss must be made whole through restitution paid to them by the criminal who victimized them. This bill will strengthen the ability of victims to collect the restitution owed to them by automatically converting every restitution order in a criminal case into a civil judgment which can then be enforced through a myriad of traditional methods. The bill will also exempt restitution judgments from expiration until they are fully satisfied by the offender.
NON-MSA PARTICIPANTS MUST ESCROW FUNDS FOR JUDGMENTS
In order to protect the interests of Delaware citizens, this act requires a
tobacco manufacturer who is not a participant in the Master Settlement Agreement
(MSA) to escrow the full amount due based on the number of tobacco product units
it sold in the State of Delaware per annum. These escrow funds would be
used to satisfy a judgment won against a non-participating tobacco product
manufacturer by a citizen of Delaware. This bill has been introduced as
H.B. 130 with Rep. Hudson and Sen. Blevins as the prime sponsors. Voted
out of committee in the House on 4-9-03.
TOBACCO ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 1999 ENHANCEMENTS
Violations of the Delaware Tobacco Settlement Act of 1999, threaten the integrity of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, the fiscal soundness of the state, and the public health. The procedural enhancements promulgated by this Act will aid in the enforcement of the Tobacco Settlement Act of 1999 (29 Del. C. Ch. 60C) against a non-compliant tobacco manufacturer who is not a participant in the Master Settlement Agreement
SENTENCING AND PROBATION REFORM INITIATIVES
(These two bills were discussed at the Attorney General's press conference on 3-26-03)
The Attorney General is committed to ensuring that
Delaware's prison space is
reserved for violent offenders and repeat offenders. Convicted
criminals who arm themselves with firearms in violation of our existing laws
represent a clear and present danger to the public. This legislation will
significantly increase the mandatory prison sentences imposed upon offenders
with previous convictions for violent felonies who thereafter possess firearms
in violation of the law. The prison space necessary to accommodate this
toughening of our sentencing practices will be created by reallocating prison
beds currently devoted to certain drug offenders. Judges will be given the
discretion to suspend some or all of the mandatory prison sentences required in
certain drug cases involving first-time offenders with no prior violent felony
convictions who possess relatively small quantities of illegal drugs.
Judges will also be permitted to impose home confinement instead of
jail sentences in certain motor vehicle cases where injuries or alcohol are not
involved, and will be given the authority to place certain sex offenders on
probation for life. This package of proposals will make Delaware a safer
place without requiring the expenditure of additional and scarce resources.
This legislation has been introduced as H.B. 52. Rep. Smith and Sen.
Vaughn are the prime sponsors. Voted out of committee in the House
Since the adoption of the SENTAC sentencing system in 1987, the number of defendants on probation has increased by 75%. The huge increase in the number of defendants on probation has also led to a huge increase in the number of defendants incarcerated for violations of probation. Probation violations are now the single largest source of admittees to Delaware's prison system. In order to ensure that Delaware's prison space is reserved for violent and repeat offenders, this legislation will end the practice of using lengthy periods of probation as punishment. Except where necessary to ensure public safety, probation sentences will be strictly limited. As a result of these limitations, the number of probation violations will be significantly reduced, thereby reducing the number of defendants who are sentenced to incarceration as a consequence. As the caseloads of Delaware's probation officers are reduced, they will be able to concentrate more intensively on the defendants assigned to them. Victims will benefit from provisions of the legislation that will strengthen their ability to collect restitution. The bill will also authorize the Superior Court to consolidate multiple pending violations of probation involving a defendant into one proceeding regardless of the court or county in which the sentences were originally imposed, thereby conserving scarce judicial resources. The legislation has been introduced as Senate Bill 50. Sen. Vaughn and Rep. Lee are the prime sponsors. Passed the Senate on 4-9-03.