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Delaware Senate Democrats

ADVISORY: Sen. Marie Pinkney, Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown to hold two-day summit on the State of the State of Corrections

February 10, 2022

WHAT: In an effort to shed more light on Delaware’s prison system, Sen. Marie Pinkney and Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown on Thursday announced they will be hosting a two-day, all-virtual State of the State of Corrections Summit later this month.

Scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both Tuesday, February 22, and Wednesday, February 23, the event will feature national speakers, a community listening session, and a series of roundtable discussions. Roundtable topics will include physical and mental wellness of incarcerated people, the reach of the juvenile justice system, the lived experiences of correctional staff, the state’s expanding re-entry programs and more.

“Locking people up and throwing away the key is not justice. It does not make our communities safer. And it’s not even the end of the story,” said Sen. Pinkney, who chairs the Senate Corrections & Public Safety Committee.

“The truth is our state spends more than $350 million a year to incarcerate human beings – disproportionally Black men – in decades-old prison facilities, where many receive inadequate medical care and few are given a chance to better their lives before they are inevitably returned to our streets with even greater trauma than when they left,” she said. “I am concerned that our refusal to confront the injustices in our own prison system is putting correctional officers at risk, failing our communities of color, and making our neighborhoods less safe. Rep. Minor-Brown and I have organized this summit to bring everyone to the table so we can begin to have an honest conversation about how we do better as a state and as a society.”

While the First State has significantly reduced its prison population in recent years, more than 16,000 people are still either locked in a cell or are being actively monitored by the state – a population larger than the Town of Smyrna. Delaware currently ranks among the five states with the highest incarceration rates on the East Coast and holds the worst recidivism rate in the country.

Another 2,400 people are employed by Delaware’s correctional system – a population the size of the Town of Bridgeville. The danger to those state employees was highlighted in 2017 when about 100 inmates took control of Building C at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, held three staff members hostage and murdered a fourth.

“I am committed to knocking down the barriers that prevent people from being successful when they re-enter society after being incarcerated. Too many people have the potential and drive to want to do better, but they keep hitting these barriers that block them in areas such as education, housing, employment, and entrepreneurship,” said Rep. Minor-Brown, who chairs the House Corrections Committee. “We have taken several important steps in reforming our criminal justice system, but we have more work to do. I am looking forward to sitting down with advocates, leaders and community members to discuss wholistic approaches to continue that improvement.”

A full schedule of events, list of panelists and Zoom links to all 10 individual segments will be made available prior to the event.

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 22
Wednesday, Feb. 23

WHERE: Virtual (registration links coming soon)

WHO: Sen. Marie Pinkney
Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown

Officials from:
Delaware Department of Correction
The Delaware Department of Labor
The Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth & their Families
The Office of Defense Services
ACLU Delaware
The Delaware Center for Justice
The Wilmington Hope Commission
The Group Violence Intervention Project