Senate Bill 50
142nd General Assembly (2003 - 2004)
The General Assembly has ended, the current status is the final status.
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLES 10 AND 11 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO PROBATION AND RESTITUTION IN CRIMINAL CASES.
This Act will substantially reform the use of probation in Delaware. 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 largest single source of admissions to Delaware’s prison system, and account for approximately one-third of all inmates. The Delaware Department of Correction currently supervises more than 19,000 individuals on probation and parole. Delaware ranks third in the nation in the number of its citizens on probation. Moreover, in Delaware over 38% of the probation population is under intensive supervision, as compared with 3% nationally. In order to ensure that Delaware’s prison space is reserved for violent and repeat offenders, this Act will end the practice of using lengthy periods of probation as punishment. Except where necessary to ensure public safety or effective substance abuse treatment, 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. The Act will also direct SENTAC to quickly develop new sentencing guidelines to ensure that probation will not be used excessively. Victims will benefit from provisions of the Act which will strengthen the State’s ability to collect restitution from criminals. Victims will also be given new tools which will permit them to use civil remedies to seek restitution. The Act will simplify proceedings following a violation of the conditions of probation. The Superior Court will be authorized 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 simplifying sentences while conserving scarce judicial resources. The Department of Correction will also be given enhanced authority to administratively sanction minor and technical violations of the terms of probation by temporarily reclassifying the offender to Level IV for a short period of time. In order to ensure that probationers are classified to the appropriate level of supervision, the Department of Correction will be given the discretion to reclassify probationers between the various levels of probation.
Takes effect upon being signed into law