Protecting Civil Rights in Delaware

A Look Back at 2011

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since I became the new executive director of the ACLU of Delaware. I’m grateful for my warm reception into the community and the opportunity to have met and worked with so many of you already. Delawareans enjoy greater freedom and equality because of this important work we do together.

Who would have thought that a civil unions bill would pass in six short weeks? I’d like to thank the members of Equality Delaware who showed me the ropes at Legislative Hall during the masterful civil unions campaign. We look forward to our continuing close association to ensure that the law is fully and fairly implemented in January.

Looking Forward to 2012

Today, the ACLU-DE is working to accomplish a number of strategic objectives, as well as our day-to-day work of keeping government at all levels accountable. These broad objectives are:

  1. LGBT equality;
  2. repeal of the death penalty; and
  3. prison reform—both reducing incarceration rates and improving prison conditions.

As we review 2011 and look forward to the new year, I’d like to encourage you to consider our work from a broader perspective. I think it is important to realize that what we accomplish in Delaware often has a critical impact nationally as well.

Our local objectives link directly to national efforts and will help bring about eventual national reform. Winning civil unions or repealing the death penalty here in Delaware has a positive impact for the state, but our success, when combined with similar successful efforts in other states, also establishes evolving standards of decency which the Supreme Court will eventually rely on to rule in favor of national same-sex relationship recognition and to declare capital punishment unconstitutional.

Partners and Projects

When it comes to criminal justice reform, ACLU is working with the DE Center for Justice and the HOPE Commission to contribute a community perspective to the governor’s effort on Justice Reinvestment, which parallels a nationwide ACLU effort to reduce incarceration rates.

Our “Stay in School” project works with middle-school students and their parents in response to zero tolerance discipline polices that push some students out of school and into the juvenile justice system. Over the long term, these efforts aim to increase high school graduation rates and decrease incarceration rates as well.

Finally, thanks to the superb work of our legal program, ACLU-DE just concluded a hard-fought prison rape lawsuit with a groundbreaking settlement. We have been told that this settlement will be a model throughout the country because it is the first where a court has required comprehensive, zero tolerance policies to prevent sexual abuse throughout a prison system.

The ACLU of Delaware is focused on the future and all that we can achieve by working together as a community. We are proud of what has been accomplished this year, but there is so much more to do. Please join us in our efforts, both your time and your financial support make an invaluable contribution. Details on how you can help and more information about all of our projects can be found at

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  1. John
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I find it rich that your rail against zero tolerance in schools, but wear it as a badge inside prisons. Hypocrisy much?

  2. Leona
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    What you really need is to discuss about the Prison that have 1-2 life Sentences for a wrongful conviction crime and the color of there skins and making a example of the Black young mans and womans. Now this is wrong and you need to look at that issues.

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