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Delaware Senate Democrats

Senator Darius Brown to Host Expungement Fairs in All Three Delaware Counties

October 21, 2021

DOVER – Senator Darius Brown will host an expungement fair in each of Delaware’s three counties over the next three weeks to help people across the First State learn how they can earn a second chance at life.

Each of the three upcoming expungement fairs will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., including:

October 28 – New Castle County
Simpson United Methodist Church, 907 Centerville Road, Wilmington
November 9 – Kent County
Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church, 101 N. Queen St., Dover
November 16 – Sussex County
Georgetown Town Hall, 39 The Circle, Georgetown

A limited number of free, one-on-one expungement counseling spaces are available at each fair to those who register here: Counseling spaces will be assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis to those who register before the deadlines of October 26 for New Castle County, November 5 for Kent County and November 12 for Sussex County.

“Delawareans with a criminal record for even the lowest level crimes face barriers to employment, housing and an education – a lasting punishment that can haunt them long after their sentence is complete,” said Senator Brown, D-Wilmington. “The adult expungement process we created two years ago replaces those barriers to economic opportunity with avenues to upward mobility, and these expungement fairs will help formerly justice-involved individuals in New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties take their first steps down the road to redemption.”

More than 250 people received help with getting the expungement process started when Senator Brown hosted the first expungement fair at New Destiny Fellowship Church in Wilmington in late December 2019 – just days before the Adult Expungement Reform Act took effect. Additional expungement fairs planned in 2020 were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With more than 80% of adult Delawareans now vaccinated against COVID-19, expungement fairs may now continue safely with proper health protocols in place. All guests will be required to wear masks while indoors and precautions have been put in place to maintain at least six feet of social distancing, in keeping with the latest CDC guidance.

“Delaware has taken tremendous strides over the last several years to make the process of clearing one’s record easier and more accessible,” said Eliza Hirst, assistant public defender for post disposition relief with the Office of Defense Services. “These expungement fairs are a wonderful opportunity for people to learn more about the expungement process and to find out if they are eligible. A criminal record should not be what defines who we are, and second chances are possible.”

The expungement fairs planned in the coming weeks are being held in partnership with the Office of Defense Services, the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System, the State Bureau of Identification, The Way Home Inc., Methodist Action Program, Mt. Zion AME Church of Dover, the APEX Program, and other community partners.

“The Central Delaware NAACP Branch would like to express its gratitude and appreciation to State Senator Darius Brown for his sponsorship of the upcoming expungement fairs,” said Fleur McKendell, president of the Central Delaware NAACP Branch. “These fairs will no doubt be an instrumental tool that provides individuals who have been convicted of minor offenses with a unique and valuable opportunity to have a second chance in life. The Central Delaware NAACP Branch commends Senator Brown’s efforts to equalize opportunities for underserved communities and is committed to supporting him in these efforts in any way that it can.”

“Mt. Zion AMEC of Dover is grateful for the opportunity to pursue justice with Senator Brown as we work together on behalf of those in need of upward economic mobility, hope for tomorrow, and emancipation from their past,” said the Rev. Dr. Erika D. Crawford, pastor of Mt. Zion AMEC.

“We, the Methodist Action Program, promote and work for a justice system that reflects God’s desires for the healing and restoration of all Creation,” said the Rev. Joseph Archie, the Delaware District Superintendent of the United Methodist Church. “The Methodist Action Program wholeheartedly supports the expungement process as a restorative work in keeping with our principles of peace and justice. We seek to collaborate in such work and implore others of all races and creeds to join us in this holy endeavor.”

“So many individuals, who have served their time, are still plagued with the stain of incarceration even 10 years down the road when background checks are done for employment, housing, to start a business or even to establish credit,” said Paulette Rappa, director of The Way Home. “It could go as far as denying a person from attending their own son’s military graduation. A clean record is a clear path to a better quality of life.”

A centerpiece in Senator Brown’s ongoing efforts to lift Delaware families out of poverty by expanding access to employment and living wages, the Adult Expungement Reform Act of 2019 significantly expanded the availability of an expungement beyond people who have received a pardon or were charged but never actually convicted of a crime.

SS 1 for SB 37 made adult expungements mandatory for some isolated misdemeanors once a petition has been filed with the State Bureau of Identification. The bill also made clear that other charges can be expunged at the discretion of judges with input from both the Delaware Department of Justice and any victims affected by the crime in question.

The legislation also allowed most people who have received a pardon to apply to the court for an expungement. Certain offenses such as a DUI, a felony conviction for physical or sexual assault crimes and third-degree unlawful sexual contact will not qualify for expungement without a pardon.

“The existence of a criminal record results in damaging collateral consequences. The expungement procedures have been uniquely developed to offer a fresh start and remove barriers for justice-involved persons who seek a sustainable and equitable lifestyle,” said Dominique Truitt, APEX Program Coordinator. Second chances are attainable, and statewide fairs, such as this, serve the distinct purpose of offering the resources and knowledge necessary to achieve that task.”

Senator Brown this year passed three additional restorative justice bills that will further expand second-chance opportunities for Delawareans who have paid their debt to society.

Senate Bill 111, also known as the Clean Slate Act, would automate Delaware’s existing expungement process for thousands of adults and juveniles by eliminating the need for them to first file a petition with the State Bureau of Identification. Senate Bill 112 would expand eligibility for mandatory expungements. Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 38 includes a number of technical revisions.