Changes proposed to Delaware's bail system
February 21, 2013By Tim Bunting/for NewsWorks
Attorney General Beau Biden unveiled a Constitutional amendment designed to strengthen the bail system in the state of Delaware.
Biden made the proposal along with Senator Margaret Rose Henry and Representatives Helene Keeley and Larry Mitchell.
The proposed bills would forfeit cash bail paid by repeat violent offenders if they were arrested while out on bail awaiting trial. It would also at least double the amount of bail needed for the repeat offense of the second crime. Superior Court judges would be able to revoke bail for repeat offenders if there is sufficient evidence that the second set of crimes were committed by the same person.
"When someone is arrested, who is a dangerous offender, or a risk of flight, the state should have the right to detain them until they stand trial," said Biden. He says his goal is to detain someone who is a danger to the community.
According to Biden, this will keep repeat offenders from committing more serious crimes, keeping them off of the street until they stand trial. Currently, the only charge eligible to keep offenders in prison in the state is a capital murder case.
To change the crimes that are eligible for denial of bail, state lawmakers would have to amend the state's Constitution. That requires approval by two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly. That means the earliest the change could be made is January 2015.
The proposed bill would also require those suspected of crimes to identify the sources of the funds used to secure the defendant's release.
Funds that are forfeited by offenders would go to a new Fugitive Task Force fund that would give the state extra help to track down people who have committed violent crimes.
"Something has to be done about repeat offenders who get out on bail and continuously commit horrific crimes," says Senator Margaret Rose Henry.
"The Wilmington Police Department, day in and day out, are doing their job. They are arresting these individuals, but they are getting back out on bail. They don't care whether or not they are keeping us up until 2 o'clock in the morning. And that is exactly what they're doing," says Representative Helene Keeley. "They're going to go out and do the same offense again."
Biden says that the bail system would be in line with what other states already have in place, but he would like the Delaware system to be in line with the federal bail system.