Concern arises after bill addressing bail, passes in the Senate
DELAWARE – With the recent senate passing of Senate Bill 7, concerns are on the rise in the Delaware community, more specifically in the black and brown community.
SB 7 would prevent those accused of violent crimes from being released before their trials, unless they can hand over a hefty cash bail. We’re told the bill aims to continue keeping the community safe, by keeping defendants up for trial in jail. For those committing class A felonies like murder and rape, members of the community say it’s a good idea.
Now for those who have already served time for previous crimes not involving rape or murder, some are asking is this fair? “You cannot treat a person as if they’re guilty just because of a previous offense,” says Chair of the NAACP Delaware branch, Lachelle Paul. She adds, “Is it just, if they end up going to court and then they’re found innocent? You can’t give a person their time back. You can’t give a person back their time with their family.”
Some concerned community members bring up the point, if someone has served their time for a previous crime that doesn’t involve murder or other heinous crimes, they don’t think someone should sit in jail without a conviction. “It’s going to be the black and brown communities that don’t have the money to pay for these bails and then we’re the ones sitting in jail for years,” says David Williams Jr, a community activist and previous candidate for state governor.
We reached out to the state department of corrections on this, which they provided a comment stating, “The Delaware Department of Correction supports the public policy objective of this legislation to protect the public safety. We expect that enactment of this legislation would increase the pre-trial detentioner population in DOC facilities. DOC’s incarcerated population is down more than 25% over the past five years and our facilities maintain the capacity to accommodate an increased detentioner population.”
However, a Williams tells us, he doesn’t think it’s fair. “You’re supposed to be innocent until prove guilty, but it’s almost like we’re guilty and then we have to prove our innocence,” says Williams.
Although the bill is making it’s way to the governor’s desk, those we spoke with say, it’s time for community members and others to bring awareness to the negativity that comes with this bill. “We have to continue to keep fighting. Like John Lewis said, if we see something wrong, we have a moral obligation to try to fix it,” says Williams.
Paul says she agrees with keeping residents safe by keeping some criminals off the streets. However, she tells us for those who have done their time and paid their dues to society, keeping them in jail will do more harm then good. She says there could be other avenues such as house arrests and probation officers for those awaiting trial.
Now as of today, the bill has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee in the house.