Letter to the Editor: Time for common sense reform

An excellent commentary by attorney Sean Lynn (“New year, new session, new vision for criminal justice reform,” Commentary, Jan 12) is right on point. But there is so much more which can be done.

He should move swiftly on expungements. Some 70 million adult Americans have a criminal record. I happen to specialize in applications for expungements and for pardons, here and in other states. In Delaware, if you have a felony record, before you can get an expungement you first must get a pardon, a long and costly process. It is absurd.

To those who say things like “we should not so readily wipe the record clean,” let me remind you that we are simply talking about the ability to apply; a judge must still make a wise and fair decision. Also, even after an expungement, law enforcement still has access to the criminal record of the person for whom an expungement was granted.

Another area where we should move quickly is releasing harmless inmates. There are hundreds, yes hundreds, of inmates too ill to do any harm, even if they wanted to! In wheelchairs, blind or nearly blind! They should be released ASAP!

Each one is costing you well over $100,000 annually to house, due to medical costs. The current DOC “POPS” program, designed to address this problem, is a joke. A handful — fewer than five — have been released using that. I remind you that DOC personnel have an interest in opposing needed reforms, and their union actively does thwart needed changes. For them, it is job preservation, not justice.

Ninety-six percent of all inmates will be released, and Mr. Lynn understands that when we help them reenter society, we help our communities.

Ken Abraham
Former Deputy Attorney General

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