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May 23, 1997     Cape Gazette
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May 23, 1997
 

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Community provides valuable input to Criminal Justice q2oetncil By Kerry Kester ter, sewer and lighting be a start- ra{fial relations, not only amongst Sussex County citizens are clear thk on how they want to see the crim- inal justice system changed. They want illegal drugs out of the com- munities, prisons reformed, vic- tims&apos; rights strengthened, racial concerns addressed, prevention programs for children developed and court systems run more effi- ciently. Department of Correction Com- missioner and Chairman of the Criminal Justice Council Stan Taylor was pleased with the pro- active recommendations the ap- proximately 50-member audience provided the council. He dubbed the Sussex County public hearing on criminal justice, held Tuesday, May 20, a success. Panelists who addressed the cit- izenry spanned the criminal jus- tice system: Public Defender and Criminal Justice Council Vice Chairman Lawrence Sullivan; Justice of the Peace Courts Chief Magistrate Patricia Griffin; Delaware State Police Maj. Joseph Forester; Deputy Attorney General James Adkins; Family Court Deputy Director Ray Quillen; and Criminal Justice Council Executive Director Jim Kane. The first concern voiced by citi- zens was the drug problem• "As a concerned citizen in Rehoboth, I see a great need for improvement in the West Rehoboth communi- ty," said Janine Hamilton. "We have people from all walks of life coming into the community to purchase drugs• It's a very, very small community• I don't under- stand why the drug problem is still there• "I don't know what to recom- mend other than to get rid of it. The €omrnunity itself is in poor ing point. Forester addressed her concern by recommending she seek assis- tance from the Rural Community Policing Unit and First State Community Action Agency, both trained to help communities find resources. He reflected that the community has fewer drug prob- lems than it did three years ago, and the Special Investigations Unit is continuing to work on the problem• Ernest Gulab of Millsboro asked that crime victims receive more help from agencies such as the Attorney General's office when issues of restitution and pro- bation or parole violations are in- volved. Adkins explained that probation or parole terms are in lieu of fulfilling full incarceration sentences, so that when criminals are in violation, they can be re- turned to prison. Prison programs lacking Jim Lewis, pastor of the Sussex County Mission of the Episcopal Church, said those who work with prisoners have learned that many prisoners fear being returned into society. He recommended form- ing a committee comprised of prisoners, victims, guards, police and Department of Correction of- ficials. He made the following addi- tional suggestions to improve re- sults of prison rehabilitation pro- grams: provide more funding for the KEY and Crest (substance abuse prevention) programs, alco- hol abuse prevention programs and educational/skills programs• He also asked that the public be- come more educated about who is incarcerated and the problems those.people face - both inside and outside prison walls• Of utmost ul cr w] pr in p, Lt African American-Latino pop- ltions, where he is seeing in- cased tension, but among dtes. l'aylor told Lewis that the son system has many programs place and is continuing to ex- nd along many of the tracks wis suggested. R Lcism needs attention (acial issues were also a con- ce n to Ed White, president of the St ssex County National Associa- tiqn for the Advancement of Col- ored People (NAACP). Drugs, he said, seem to be at the root of mny of the racially oriented problems. "We know that it's a dirge," he saJ d. He said he had heard from mre than one law enforcement ag :nt that police sometimes per- ce ve the drug problem as a "lost ca Jse." 'I would like to see an orga- ni :ed crime task force," said W ,te. Often, he said, those who ge caught in the illegal drug mar- ke are people of color. towever, the battle against ille- go drugs would perhaps be more ef ective if there was more con- celttration on trying to arrest and co'avict 'kingpins•' "We need a bi ger hammer now, and we real- ly need to go after some of these bi : guys," said White. Yhite also wants to see changes in prisons. "There seems to be an inl'atuation with building more pri sons," he said• People of color, he said, "think the prisons are be- inl built specifically for them." ; minority population, he said, "i., adversely affected by the crim- in 1 justice system in Sussex C( anty. re laws, more time condition• It needs a plan•" She iV] suggested basic needs such as wa- concern, he said, is improving 'IWe're passing more laws that I incc00mplete but 00weekend Roadhouse. intersection all lanes to open over holida ' 'hat work is considered less di "uptive and includes curbing an, an increased turning radius in th( road between the Roadhouse an Colonial East. Much of the co tern over the changes came fro n the Colonial East residents an, park owner Steve Class said re., dents are still far from happy. ']We are going to give them [D{:IDOT] the benefit of the doubt • • I" But we still don't feel it is soling the problem," Class said. "I lave had two people almost hit alr{ady. '.lass said he remains concerned will not occur during weekends, Gillan said. Gillan said that most of the work on Route 1 is expected to be done by the time this paper hits the streets on Friday, but some work will remain to be done on the side roads which adjoin the in- tersection. "We are happy it has progressed so quickly. But we do not feel this will solve all the problems," Gillan said. But she said the work should help eliminate traffic mak- ing left turns into the Rehoboth Outlet Center from backing up on the travel lanes of Route 1. That concern was the main impetus be- hind the work, which is actually being funded by outlet ownership Charter Oak Partners. Work still to be done on side roads includse work on the road beside the Roadhouse Steak Joint and work in the parking area of the Rehoboth Outlets #1. ,ut safety and said that Colonial ;t residents are having a hard because they can't turn left the park any longer. Now, Ihbound traffic must either en- 2olonial East at the Roadhouse ;rsection (which has been ;ed temporarily) or go through Midway Shopping Center un- Continued on page 14 ( ab< Ea tirr int SOt ter in! cl˘ the By Michael Short Work on the Roadhouse inter- section won't be done in time for Memorial Day, but Delaware De- partment of Transportation (Del- DOT) officials promise that all travel lanes will be open from Fri- day afternoon through Monday• Christine Gillan, director of ex- ternal affairs for DelDOT, said that the travel lanes will be open all weekend• There will still be some work left to do, but there will be northbound left turn lanes into the Rehoboth Outlet Center operating and the Roadhouse in- tersection should be open this weekend• Once Memorial Day weekend is over there will be additional lane closures. But that should be limit- ed to about two weeks and will af- fect one northbound lane of Route 1 which must be closed while shoulder work is done on Route 1, she said. Those lane closures also Kerry Kuter photo Members of the Criminal Justice Council Hsten intently as citizens voice concerns and make recommendations for im- provement in Delaware's criminal justice system. Shown (l-r) are Public Defender and Criminal Justice Council Vice Chair- man Lawrence Sullivan; Justice of the Peace Courts Chief Magistrate Patricia Griffin; and Department of Correction Commissioner and Chairman of the Criminal Justice Council Stan Taylor. put more people in prison," said Rep. Shirley Price (D-Bethany Beach)• The public, she said, de- mands a safer environment, so new laws have been passed and enforcement has toughened. She said she has heard numer- ous complaints about the rate of recidivism (returns to incarcera- tion) because the public objects to the cost of incarceration (approxi- mately $22,000 annually)• She said she would like to see prison industries strengthened to offset some of that cost as well as strengthen the support system that would help convicts make an easi- er and more effective transition back into society• Taylor, who supports Price's recommendations, said prisons are faced with overpopulation that results in losing the space needed for prison industry• In fact, he noted, the prison industry building at Sussex Correctional Institute !s currently being used as a dormito- ry until the new dormitory facility is completed. Sullivan said that as a public de 7 fender, his interest is in reducing the number of people arrested, as well as the recidivism rate, through stronger drug and alcohol treatment programs. Fully 80 percent of the prisoners in Delaware are "full blown ad- dicts", he said, but the Department of Correction has only enough funding to provide drug and alco- hol treatment for five percent of the prison population• He said Gov. Tom Carper re- gently announced that he supports action that would require anyone incarcerated for more than a year to undergo treatment. "It's just a question of legislative support," said Sullivan. Prevention urged Rose Lawson, community pre vention coordinator at First State Community Action Agency, said much of what the others suggested could be less of a problem if more funding was directed toward pre- vention programs - especially for children. Her sentiment was echoed by Lt. John Miller of the Milton Po- lice Department, who asked the council to consider finding the means to erect a facility in a cen- tral location for children from throughout the county. Such a facility could include pregnancy, drug abuse and alco- hol abuse prevention programs as well as educational components• "This is where we're losing our community," said Miller, "the kids•" With a properly staffed youth center, "we would solve a lot of our problems," he said. Janis Hanwell, principal at Sus- sex Consortium in Lewes, also agreed with Lawson and Miller, citing the successes of early detec- tion and intervention strategies employed over the last several years in public education. "We've seen a lot of success," said Han- well. Courts need revamping Dan Short of the City of Seaford Council and police commissioner, said ineffective practices in the court system lead to less effective policing• Officers often waste tremendous amounts of time wait- ing for court proceedings. Instead, he said, those officers could be patrolling their commu- nities. "The system and technolo- gy is there to allow us to do so much more," Short said. Other panelists and audience members voiced agreement with Short's assessment that hundreds upon hundreds of productive hours are lost while people wait for court proceedings. All of the recommendations were recorded and will be submit- ted, along with those from the public hearings in New Castle County, Kent County and Wilm- ington, to the Criminal Justice Council. The data collected from the meetings will be synthesized, and council members will use the in- formation for planning and ad- ministration. A summary of the meetings will also be included in the council's annual report, which is submitted to the governor, and is available to the public by con- tacting the council at 1-302-577- 3465.