About Delaware Department of Correction
The Delaware Department of Corrections (DOC) takes over adult offenders sentenced to prison following their conviction by the justice system. The Department's headquarters are in the Central Administration Building in Dover.
It operates four correctional facilities: the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Sussex Correctional Institution, Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, and Baylor Women's Correctional Institution. The state of Delaware also operates given halfway houses for individuals on parole.
However, the Delaware Department of Corrections does not house juvenile inmates. Instead, the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Service (DYRS) is responsible for incarcerating young delinquents under the age of 21. This division is under the Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families.
The primary goal of the Delaware DOC is to monitor, manage and control offenders with the ultimate objective of reducing recidivism. For this reason, the agency has come up with policies and practices focusing on offender programs aimed at reducing recidivism. These include education, vocational training and employment, and drug and alcohol treatment.
Moreover, the Department designates custody levels as maximum, medium, or minimum/community. This designation depends on an offender's risk assessment and individualized treatment plans. Additionally, living units have standard amenities, including a desk and storage space for personal effects and clothing.
Inmate Parole and Probation
The state of Delaware established the Truth-In-Sentencing Act on June 30, 1990, which restricts parole in the state. However, the Department gives convicts condemned under this Act a hearing chance before the Board of Parole. This happens upon the Department of Correction's application for consideration of sentence reduction. The board reviews the application before deciding whether or not the inmate deserves a sentence modification. Afterward, the board advises the sentencing judge to give the inmate a particularly favorable sentence reduction period.
Sometimes, inmates sentenced before the passage of the Truth-in-Sentencing Act may qualify for parole. Here, several factors come into play in determining parole eligibility. Such factors include:
- Prior involvement in offenses to do with domestic violence.
- Type and degree of severity of the current crime.
- Duration of incarceration.
- Access to rehabilitation services upon release.
- Work plans and opportunities.
Individuals on parole are under the terms of a Controlled Release Plan, which combines the necessary degree of monitoring intensity with a necessary treatment plan.
Parole is distinct from probation in that it involves the release of a convict before completing a prison term. On the other hand, probation is a court order that suspends part of or the entire incarceration period to enable inmate community monitoring. Parole Boards have the exclusive authority to award or deny parole, while it is the responsibility of judges to impose or revoke probation.
Offender's Parole Application Process per the DOC and Parole Board Requirements
The parole application process requires eligible prisoners to apply for parole consideration six months the parole eligibility date. This application is addressed to the Board of Parole. The board members vote to give the offender favorable votes for he/she to get an early release. Applicants get favorable votes by garnering the majority votes from the members present. Serious offense convicts seeking parole consideration must garner a majority of four positive votes. The board usually consists of five voting members.
Sometimes, prisoners may be denied parole without the opportunity for rehearing. In such a case, the individual will get a prison release when he/she achieves his/her good-time release date. Additionally, such an individual will be under the supervision of the Bureau of Community Corrections until the sentence's maximum expiry date.
It is the responsibility of the Board of Parole to oversee the conduct of convicts on parole or conditional release. However, the board collaborates with the DOC to return offenders to prison if they fail to comply with the terms of supervision.
Some offenders serving life sentences may be eligible for parole. However, the board members may choose to deny it or a rehearing chance. Such offenders may only get a release from the Governor through commutation of sentence. The commutation release must be on the advice of the Board of Pardons.
Delaware Department of Correction's Role in Community Relations
The Department has a Community Relations Unit whose responsibility is to bridge the gap between the general community and the DOC. Additionally, the Unit aids in establishing a connection between the offenders and their family members. It does so by providing guidance to young adults and encouraging them to quit drugs and illegal activities. As such, the Unit holds career day functions in various schools within the state. Additionally, the Unit has mentorship programs, including the Green Beret Project, which encourages collaboration in improving the lives of kids living in poverty.
Furthermore, DOC through the Unit ensures community cohesion which reduces recidivism chances by establishing community participation activities. They include:
- Safe Trick-R-Treating.
- National Night Out.
- Delaware State Fair.
- Thunder Over Dover.
Behavioral Health Program Services
Various programs and mental health services are available via the Department of Corrections to help prisoners' successful reentry. The programs do so while maintaining a balance between the community's safety and the offender's needs. Moreover, a diverse group of community providers collaborates with the DOC in addressing new trends in:
- Healthcare, including mental health.
- Support services.
This collaboration is necessary to better meet the difficulties and issues that the inmate population experiences.
Inmate behavioral health is under the support of the Bureau of Health Care, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (BHSAMHS). These groups offer inmates mental health care, sex offender treatment, and substance abuse treatment programs within the facility and after release.
The behavioral health medical practitioner undertakes an intake screening and assessment upon inmate admission. This is necessary to evaluate the type and depth of the person's requirements of care as well as the amount of treatment necessary. The screening/assessment process establishes the foundation for treatment planning during an individual's participation in institutional programs.
Youthful Criminal Offender Program (YCOP)
This is a juvenile offender program that provides accommodation for males ranging in age from 16 to 18 years. The center is situated in the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution and houses the most problematic juvenile offenders in the state. The Family Court has either deemed these individuals non-amenable or is convicts of serious crimes that condemn them to the adult system. The Superior Court is responsible for such condemnation.
The juveniles in the YCOP program stay in separate areas from the adult males within the institution. Additionally, the YCOP improves offender behavior using organized programming, including:
- Substance addiction therapy.
- Anger management.
- Alternatives to violence.
- Young leadership and public speaking.
Furthermore, the Department offers classes from Monday through Friday for juveniles without a high school diploma. This high school diploma program is also a requirement for those with a GED. The facility also incorporates other activities such as prison Arts, religious devotion, and outdoor leisure for the benefit of these juveniles.
Family members and friends can visit the YCOP offenders once a week and can make daily phone calls. Additionally, these individuals have access to the commissary while in custody.
Delaware DOC Inmate Search
VINELink allows individuals seeking the DOC offender locator services in the State of Delaware to use this online service.
Crime victims may access quick and trustworthy information regarding criminal proceedings and the custody status of convicts via this service, which is available 24/7. It is also possible to sign up for phone, email, text message (SMS) alerts. These alerts notify the stakeholders whenever a prisoner's custody status changes. Users may also register by calling the toll-free number on the website.
The results of the DOC prisoner lookup process may indicate changes in the offender's release date. This is the DOC's responsibility and happens via forfeiture good time. Additionally, changes in release dates may occur as convicts may have to serve further sentences at lower levels, such as community supervision. The DOC also has the power to keep an offender beyond the release date if another jurisdiction seeks him for prosecution.
Individuals can also follow this link for information on walkaways and escapees from any facility under the Delaware DOC.