Kathleen MacRae, executive director of the ACLU of Delaware, prepared a statement in response to Attorney General Kathy Jennings’ Feb. 18 announcement of a list of directives that have the potential to change the criminal prosecution system in Delaware.

“For too many years Delaware’s criminal prosecution system has focused on tough charging practices and long prison terms. Today, Attorney General Kathleen Jennings took an important step toward shifting that focus to make the system fairer and more just. Her directives to the deputies working in the Department of Justice recognize that true justice requires charges to match the seriousness of each individual offense, that diversion and treatment can be more effective public safety tools than incarceration and that the courts should have a robust role in determining appropriate sentences,” said MacRae.

“If implemented as written, these new guidelines should lead to changes in charging, sentencing, bail and expungement. As a result, more Delawareans should be diverted from prison and overall time served should be reduced. In turn, this will help reduce prison overcrowding, make more resources available for rehabilitative services for those already in prison, and ultimately lead to a stronger and fairer community,” said MacRae.

“Attorney General Jennings recognizes the powerful and unique role that prosecutors play when deciding who gets charged, for which crimes and, when a plea deal is struck, if someone goes to prison and for how long. We applaud her commitment to fairness and hope she will ensure that these directives are applied to every individual case handled by the department,” said MacRae.

“The ACLU of Delaware and members of the Coalition for Smart Justice look forward to working further with AG Jennings to take the next step of changing Delaware statutes through the legislative process to reduce unnecessary incarceration and the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction that have for years have harmed so many,” said MacRae.