Bill: HB 11
Summary: This Act removes the prohibition against receipt of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF” also referred to by the name Aid for Families with Dependent Children or “AFDC”) funds by persons convicted of a drug felony, so long as that person is otherwise eligible or TANF assistance. Even though federal laws such as PRWORA passed during the War on Drugs frequently prohibited access to public assistance for persons with drug felonies, these laws also gave states flexibility in determining eligibility for food aid and cash assistance for families with children when applicants had a criminal conviction. The majority of states have limited the federal bans in whole or in part. In 2011, Delaware opted out of restrictions on food aid, but it has not opted out of or limited federal restrictions on TANF—the cash assistance program that is the principal form of assistance available to most families in poverty to pay for things like electricity bills or school supplies. Under existing law, individuals convicted of any state or federal drug felony, including possession of marijuana (which can be a felony under federal law), are ineligible for TANF for life. Although the children of a parent convicted of a drug crime can still receive assistance, the family’s overall award is significantly reduced, and in practice this affects the well-being of families and children.
Full Text of Bill
Notable News & Research: A Lifetime of Punishment: The Impact of the Felony Drug Ban on Welfare Benefits – The Sentencing Project, 2015
Status: On 3/21/17, HB 11 passed the House (37-1). On 4/5/17, HB 11 was reported favorably out of the Senate Health, Children & Social Services Committee.
What happens next?: HB 11 is ready to be heard in the full Senate.
DCJ believes that families should be able to move forward, past a parent or sibling’s previous indiscretions. We fully support the legislative effort to remove this restriction.
Bill: HB 125 (Extreme Crimes Prevention Act)
Summary: This bill would restore a prosecutor’s ability to seek the death penalty in Delaware by requiring a jury to unanimously “and beyond a reasonable doubt” find one or more aggravating circumstances that make the offense eligible for capital punishment.
Full Text here
Notable News, Research & Resources: Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty
Status: HB 125 has been filed.
What happens next?: HB 125 will be heard in the House Judiciary committee within the next 12 legislative days.
The Delaware Center for Justice is a staunch advocate against the death penalty. Specifically, we believe it is racially biased and arbitrarily applied. Our current system of justice is imperfect, which puts innocent lives at risk. The death penalty is also extremely costly to the taxpayers. Simply put, the death penalty is the wrong
public policy choice for Delaware.
Full Text: TBD
Notable News, Research & Resources: Here
Status: The text of this bill has not yet been finalized, but it is expected to increase options for judges setting conditions of release for individuals held pre-trial. Once the bill is filed, more information will be available.
What Happens Next?: TBD
The Delaware Center for Justice supports the implementation of a validated risk assessment tool to assess the risk a defendant poses to the community. Additionally, DCJ supports the elimination of cash bail in favor of a risk-based bail system, which requires an expansion of Delaware’s pretrial supervision capacity.