Jack Stollsteimer ’s 10 - Point Smart on Crime Agenda
for Delaware County
1. End the privatization of our criminal justice system
Our county jail, George Hill Correctional Facility (GHCF), is the only privately managed prison in Pennsylvania. Since its privatization in 1996, GHCF has been beset by security failures and litigation related to insufficient staffing and the proper care of our prisoners.
Jack Stollsteimer believes it is morally wrong to allow for-profit corporations to benefit from the incarceration of our residents. Jack is a founding member of the Delco Coalition for Prison Reform (CPR) which has led the public campaign for the deprivitization of GHCF. As District Attorney he will work with the County Council to return GHCF to public management.
2. Reform our cash bail system
In 2016, twenty-seven percent (27%) of the people admitted to our county jail were held solely because of their inability to post cash bail. Incarcerating people presumed innocent simply because they are too poor to afford bail is certainly immoral and perhaps unconstitutional.
The National Prosecution Standards of the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) require prosecutors to seek bail or other release conditions at the minimum level necessary to ensure community safety and court appearance, and to request release over detention whenever possible.
As District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer will work with County Council and the Board of Judges to reform our county’s bail system by:
waiving or reducing the 40% county administrative fee which acts as an incentive to require secured cash bail; and
requiring a bail hearing with counsel for every person who does not post bail with 72 hours of arrest.
3. Charge the possession of small amounts of marijuana as a summary offense
Aggressive enforcement of small amounts of marijuana offenses is expensive to enforce and takes law enforcement resources away from investigating and prosecuting more serious crimes. A recent national report found that in 2015 arrests for marijuana possession outnumbered arrests for all violent crimes combined.
The criminalization of the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana also disproportionately affects the poor and people of color. In 2017 Delaware County’s African American population was twenty-two percent (22%), yet African Americans accounted for fifty-nine percent (59%) of the 1,110 arrests made for marijuana possession in Delaware County that year.
As District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer will use the power granted his office under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure to direct state law enforcement agencies in Delaware County to issue summary citations in place of misdemeanor criminal charges for persons found to be in possession of small amounts marijuana for personal use. His “cite and release policy” will save taxpayers money, preserve law enforcement resources, and lessen the burden on our court dockets.
In addition, Jack will work with the County’s Administrative Office for Magisterial District Courts to implement a Smart Approach to Marijuana (SAM) program to allow people issued citations to reduce their fines and court fees through community service and drug abuse awareness and prevention programs.
4. Support the establishment of a County Health Department
Governor Wolf has declared the prescription opioid and heroin overdose epidemic the worst public health crisis in Pennsylvania. Nowhere in the Commonwealth has the epidemic hit harder than Delco: in 2016, the latest year for which data is available, more than 4,600 Delaware County residents covered by our state’s Medicaid program were suffering with an Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and more than 110 babies were born in our county with neonatal abstinence syndrome acquired through their mother’s OUD. And yet, inexplicably, Delaware County is the only county in Southeastern Pennsylvania without a county health department to lead the fight against this epidemic.
Cost is not the issue: state funding is available to pay the majority of the costs of a county health department. In neighboring Chester County, the cost to residents for their County Health Department, after state grants and fees, is only $1.95 per person. And according to data compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in 2017 Chester County ranked No.1 in Health Outcomes in Pennsylvania while Delaware County ranked No. 26.
As District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer will work with County Council to establish a county health department to properly lead our county heroin task force and ensure our public health professionals have access to the resources they need to wage a “War on Addiction” one life at a time.
5. Seek to expand the capacity and effectiveness of our County Drug Treatment Court
Delaware County’s Drug Treatment Court simply does not have the capacity or protocols in place to effectively help the thousands of defendants each year who could utilize its services. For example in 2016 our Drug Treatment Court accepted only 78 new cases compared to the 2,925 arrests that were reported that year in Delco for drug offenses.
Delaware County’s Drug Court also does not allow all participants to access Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT), despite studies which show successful treatment of opioid disorders typically require a combination of medical treatment and counseling. MAT is becoming more widely accepted both in drug treatment courts and in the recovery community: for example, in 2016, 2,435 Delaware County residents covered by the Medicaid program were receiving MAT.
In 2013 the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) released its Best Practice Standards which directed drug courts to offer MAT whenever it is prescribed by a properly trained physician. By not allowing all MATs, our County’s Drug Treatment Court operates below the recognized standard of care for the profession.
As District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer will work collaboratively with County Council, the Board of Judges, and a new County Health Department to expand and reform our Drug Treatment Court by:
Seeking to make the Drug Treatment program a component of each of the county criminal trial courts by assigning special judicial masters to each court to exclusively manage the progress of defendants admitted into each Judge’s Drug Treatment program;
allowing medication assisted treatments (MAT) into the Drug Treatment Court protocol for all participants whenever prescribed ;
adjusting the Drug Treatment Court program model by agreeing to drop all charges for defendants who successfully complete the Drug Treatment program.