1 in 33 Delawareans are under DOC custody
Roughly half of people on probation in Delaware make simple mistakes that shouldn’t warrant any prison time—but our broken probation system could force them back into prison anyway.
Reimagine probation. Improve lives.
For individuals returning home after incarceration, the hurdles to successful reentry are substantial. Returning citizens struggle to find housing, transportation, medical care, and employment at a liveable wage. On top of this, many face mental health and substance abuse challenges. The probation system and its myriad of reporting requirements, meetings, costs for treatment, curfews, and surveillance are insurmountable hurdles for too many.
Can we work toward a better system? As Delawareans, we can cut our prison population, give returning citizens a real chance at success, reduce recidivism, make Delaware safer, and save taxpayer dollars.
If we change our probation system and the culture around community correction, we change lives.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Ninety-four percent of the people sent to prison for probation violations have not committed a new crime.
1 out of every 3
1 out of every 3 people released from prison were re-arrested within three years for a technical probation violation.
If Delaware cut the number of probation violations by 60%, and reduced the average length of time a person must serve for a violation from 4 to 2 months, it would reduce its prison population by 1,092 people and save at least $37 million by 2025.
Real lives. Real stories. Real issues. Real solutions.
When Michael Bartley first reported to his probation officer in 2016, he was told he would be on probation for the next 24 years of his life. He had been placed on zero tolerance probation, meaning that any mistake would send him immediately back to prison. Any failure of more than a dozen probation conditions would make him one of the 73% of re-entering Delawareans who will be re-arrested within 3 years of their release.
Shannon Shapter has lived in Sussex County, Delaware for most of her life. She is a family-oriented mother, daughter, sister, a small business owner, and a community member who holds her faith close to her heart. But Shannon’s probation and TASC conditions required multiple weekly meetings and urine screenings which had to take place in Georgetown, in addition to her part-time job and attending college classes—all without being allowed to drive due to a revoked license.
One day while at the mall with her cousin, Timeeka watched her then-16-year-old relative steal a purse. Both girls were immediately arrested, detained, and at just 15 years old, Timeeka found herself tangled in the criminal justice system. Now 15 years later, Timeeka is working hard and doing well, but even after seeing so much success she is still under DOC surveillance, and has either been on probation or in jail since she was originally sentenced at age 15.
In 2018, Dubard was racially profiled by an Operation Safe Streets officer. Subjected to an unlawful search, Dubard was detained for reasons unexplained. Luckily, Dubard’s old probation officer arrived and explained to the OSS officer how he had changed his life and all of the things he’d been doing in his community. It was only then that the investigating officer became less aggressive and began to treat Dubard as a human.
Trey Miller grew up in Delaware. As a child and teenager, he loved playing basketball and baseball and was always very close with his family. His grandmother describes him as “a kind and loving, good person.” In 2012, when he was 19 years old, Trey Miller was arrested and charged in two separate cases, one for burglary and the other for robbery. Almost a decade later and Trey is still serving time for technical violations of his probation.