Criminal Justice Reform

The private prison contract must be terminated, our drug, mental health and veterans' courts expanded, possession of small amounts of marijuana decriminalized and the cash bail system reformed. Delaware County only has one judge running our drug court and he is actually officially retired. Similar issues face our mental health and veterans’ courts. All three alternative courts must be expanded substantially. We need to substantially expand the number of those eligible for drug court so that non-violent, first time offenders receive treatment instead of incarceration. Those being treated with medication-assisted regimes must be supported by the drug court. About 27% of the inmates in our prison are awaiting trial (have not yet been convicted of a crime) and are accused of non-violent crimes. The only reason they are being held is that they are too poor to pay bail. The cash bail system must be reformed so prisoners are provided due process and if one provides evidence that he or she does not pose a threat of violence or flight, then he or she should be released until their trial. The use of technology like ankle bracelets with GPS devices is much less expensive than locking people up unnecessarily. This is not only the constitutional policy, it will save taxpayers money. The $50 million prison budget as well as the $1 million budget line item for management of our bail system would be be reduced substantially by implementing reforms in our cash bail system.