Commentary: Facts matter when changing Delaware laws

The majority party in Delaware has enough votes in the House and the Senate to put through any legislation, whether or not it is constituent driven or constituent approved. This leaves Delaware families and victims at their mercy.

Very rarely is the victim mentioned when speaking of reform, and we need to make sure that the victims are heard in these matters. The legislature needs to provide the public with some actual statistics before just generically changing our laws.

For example:

1. What are the “aggravating” factors for drug crimes. This needs to be explained. If it includes ignoring a weapons charge, then I say no to this reform. The restriction put on legal gun owners in their own homes, gives the offender an advantage over the law-abiding citizen.

2. Define the term “broadening” when referring to circumstances under which expungement can be obtained. What crimes will be expunged?

3. Mandating courts to consider an individual’s financial situation before assessing fines and fees. I doubt an offender considers the financial position of the person they have violated. The victim needs to be considered first.

4. Limiting what the court can impose financial penalties for. There should be no limit on what the court can impose financial penalties for. Victims deserve to be compensated. Judges and juries, not legislators hear all the facts of a case.

5. Forbidding the suspension of a driver’s license due to the failure to pay fines and fees. Driving is a privilege, not a right. If the offender is to keep their driver’s license, the court needs require the offender to be gainfully employed within a reasonable amount of time in order to maintain their license so they can pay their fines and fee.

6. Preventing youth younger than 12 from being prosecuted except for rape and murder. The public needs to be provided with statistics for youth 11 and under and a list of offenses before this determination is made. No reform without the actual Delaware statistics. Also, what would be the consequence for breaking the law for those under 12?

7. Making underage possession or use of alcohol and marijuana a civil offense instead of criminal offense. Why are we trying to raise the age of smoking to 21 but give a pass to underage alcohol use and marijuana use? If the businesses or people that supply these items to underage youth receive a criminal penalty then so should the person that violated the law, if the law is to be equal.

Cheryl Precourt is a resident of Dover.

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