Field Trip Insight: Hope Street DE Members Attend Criminal Justice Council’s Hearing

Field Trip to the Achievement Center for a Criminal Justice Council hearing.

Intro-

Christian Kervick, the Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Council (CJC) welcomed attendees to the hearing and told us a bit about CJC. What caught my ear is that CJC is responsible for 35 million dollars. There was no break down of where those monies go to, but he did let us know that the board of director requires CJC to hold a certain amount of public hearings a year throughout the state and a report summary of the discussions, concerns and current issues of the public and state agencies be submitted. Chris made it clear that CJC and the panelists were there to listen to the attendees and to maybe come to a next step process on how CJC can better serve the community and incorporate trending needs of the community. 

Panelists-

Chief Robert Tracy, City of Wilmington Police, Commissioner Steve Wesley, DOC Level 5, Youth Service Professional from Youth Services, Two State Prosecutors, Public Defender Raymond Armstrong, and Colonel Nathaniel McQueen Jr

Audience Included:

Former Chief of Police of Wilmington, Bobby Cummings, Concerned and Informed Mother, Erin Goldner from Hope Street DE, Jesse Johnson, Delaware Tech Professor and Hope Street DE Rep., Affiliates of the 12/12 Club Corporation, Bear/Newark Resident, Local Residents of Wilmington, Members of CJC, Community Activicts for the “Dismantling of The New Jim Crow” ( Amounting to about 13 audience members)

To bring an understanding of the environment, I want to let you know that it was very welcoming, open and clean with easily accessible bathrooms. This facility is located on Vandever Ave in the City of Wilmington. Parking was full, but there is parking on the street with respect to neighbors. This detail is something to be aware of when visiting this location which was founded by The Hope Commission. Walking into the facility, you will be welcomed by Achievement Center staff, who are always very professional and respectful. The conference room is in the center of building with transparent windows to allow for natural light to enter the room. The room was large enough for this hearing and there was plenty of seating.

On the flip side, as an advocate, it was a bit intimidating to have such powerful leaders all in one room sitting at an extended table in the front of the room, but once the hearing began, I felt very safe and respected by each panelist. Even Chris was able to get me to smile and open up about issues I face when trying to help people with symptoms of addiction. Chris immediately identified individuals in the room that may have previously had issues or concerns in the past.  He was able to create and moderate the conversation and be an objective point of order to allow conversation to flow and allow time for everyone to have a chance to voice their statements. 

Erin Goldner was pointed out as being a person that would want to speak up about some rehabilitative practices in the Criminal Justice Department for people with addiction health needs. Erin, myself, had much to say along with a couple other members, including Jesse, Informed Mother, and Civil Rights Activist.

Points Made-

Single Mothers are not treated up to standard in Delaware when it comes to healthcare for addiction.  Made this point very clear.  Posed a question to the Panel. “Do you have trouble fing beds for treatment for people with addiction?” One panelist stepped forward and admitted “We do not have enough beds in Delaware” Then a couple more spoke up and agreed.  The next concern , I , Erin, brought up was the lack of communication between agencies that are all serving the same person, which creates barriers and then high risk for relapse that could have been prevented, if there had been better communication.

Next, The Civil Rights Advocate, brought up the term “Legalized Racism”, which panelists seem to be comfortable talking about. Chief Tracy stepped up and further explained this concept and suggested advocate look up newer models that are being practiced now.  Tracy gave names and programs to contact for more info. 

One of the public Defenders said we must have “Investigative Integrity”. He explained some of the barriers they face as prosecutors when they are trying to litigate a case. He also stated that not once in his 10 years of service has any attorney ever asked him about the cases he was working on. 

Youth Services took time to explain processes for children that are living with an adult that has substance use disorder or other struggle that is affecting their parenting ability and how they engage and interact with youth in a positive way. 

NEXT STEP

What is the next step? We were given an email that Kervick said goes directly to his desktop computer. 

I would like to follow-up with Chris about services for people returning from incarceration with substance abuse history and creating programs focused on family healing and community involvement with a primary goal of creating safe and non-judge mental environments for women. 

The following is the email CJC and Chris provided:

cjcgeneralhelp@state.de.us