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Delaware's House Bill 210: Trade Off of Lighter Drug Trafficking and Repeat Drug Selling Sentences for Harsher Sentences for Serious Person and Property Crimes

NCJ Number
Chuck Huenke; John P. O'Connell
Date Published
January 2008
26 pages
This report is a followup study on the impact of Delaware's House Bill 210, intended to decrease the number of Department of Corrections' beds with increases in sentence length for violent crimes and shorter sentences for drug trafficking and repeat drug selling.
In this followup study, the 2006 House Bill (HB) 210 sentence lengths, longer for violent crimes and shorter for drug selling, for the most part conformed to the new law. However, instead of a bed saving as was initially experienced, or a bed neutral result that was originally expected, by 2006-2007 there was a need for at least 338 more Department of Corrections' (DOC) beds. This increase was attributed to changes in crime volume, conviction rates and plea-bargaining than deviations from the expectations for HB 210. This report presents a second analysis of the 142nd General Assembly's HB 210, which became law in June 2003. HB 210 made numerous significant changes in Delaware's criminal code, increasing penalties for several serious crimes against persons and property while decreasing penalties for most drug trafficking and repeat distribution offenses. It was intended that prison bed increases resulting from harsher penalties for person and property crimes would be offset by reduced drug sales penalties, thereby making the bill bed-neutral as a package. The first analysis of HB 210's impact showed that original assumptions regarding the bill's implementation did not hold. In this update of the impact of HB 210, convictions and sentences for drug trafficking and possession with intent to deliver, Robbery 1st, Assault 1st, Burglary 1st, and Burglary 2nd degree were examined. Tables and figures