Delaware Public Media

Juvenile justice reform bills wind through Dover

Jun 24, 2016

A slate of juvenile justice reform measures are making their way through the General Assembly or are awaiting the governor’s signature.

House lawmakers earlier this week signed off on ending the practice of automatically shackling juvenile offenders at their wrists, legs and waist who can’t make bail while their making court appearances.


A compromise would add more youth rehabilitative counselors to control any unruly child in the courtroom to the tune of about $230,000 a year in salaries and benefits.


The state could still use restraints in the courtroom for those who are safety risks or noncompliant. That bill awaits debate in the Senate.


The upper chamber unanimously approved reforming the state’s juvenile expungement system as well, which would clear someone’s criminal history and arrest records.


An expungement of a violent felony wouldn't be mandatory, though someone could ask a judge to erase that conviction if several years have passed and they stayed out of trouble during that time.


That bill still needs House approval.


And both chambers have backed requiring the Public Defender’s Office to represent those under age, which has been policy in the past few years, but it was never put in code.


Gov. Jack Markell (D) has yet to sign it.