HOUSE BILL NO. 495
AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 65, TITLE 11, DELAWARE CODE TO BETTER PROVIDE FOR THE CUSTODY OF INMATES.
WHEREAS, the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, by the Order of Judge Murray M. Schwartz dated March 1977 in the case styled as Anderson, et. al. v. Redman, et al., applying Delaware law, directed and required a substantial reduction in the inmate population at the Delaware Correctional Center such that said population did not exceed the "classification capacity" of that institution; and
WHEREAS, by reason of the enactment of an amendment to §6529 of Title 11, Delaware Code (61 Del. C. Ch. 193), the United States District Court for the District of Delaware modified its previous order to permit the use of "design capacity" rather than "classification capacity" as the ceiling for the inmate population at the Delaware Correctional Center, thereby permitting the housing of additional inmates at that institution; and
WHEREAS, notwithstanding the modification of its Order by the Court, together with the creation of approximately 360 additional beds by action of the State, the inexorable increase in inmate population again poses the threat of contempt citations and substantial fines against senior personnel of the Department of Correction because of the "design capacity" limitation; and
WHEREAS, at no time has the United States District Court for the District of Delaware found or suggested that the housing of inmates in excess of the design capacity of the Delaware Correctional Center would constitute a per se violation of the constitutional rights of the inmates; and
WHEREAS, the General Assembly of the State of Delaware expressly finds and warrants that the security and safety of the people of Delaware, and the financial integrity of the State of Delaware, require that the laws of the State clearly mandate that there be secure housing for every inmate who requires it, subject only to whatever standards the United States and Delaware Constitutions might conceivably impose.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1. Amend §6502 of Chapter 65, Title 11, Delaware Code by inserting the punctuation and letter "(a)" immediately prior to the word "A" beginning that Section.
Section 2. Further amend §6502 of Chapter 65, Title 11, Delaware Code by adding subsections (b), (c), (d) and (e) thereto, which said subsections shall read in their entirety as follows:
"(b) The Department of Correction shall accept custody of all persons committed to it by courts of competent jurisdiction. Persons committed to the custody of the Department of Correction shall not be released from custody except in accordance with the provisions of this Title or by order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
(c) Nothing in this Title shall be construed to require the release of persons committed to the custody of the Department of Correction, nor shall anything in this Title be construed as a limitation on the Inmate population at any of the facilities maintained by the Department.
Nothing in any regulation promulgated by the Department shall be construed as a limitation on the Inmate population at any of the facilities maintained by the Department.
(d) In the event that:
(1) the number of persons housed by the Department at any of Its facilities exceeds the design capacity of that facility; and
(ii) because the inmate population at that facility exceeds the design capacity of that facility the Department is unable to provide conditions of confinement as may otherwise be required by this Title or by the regulations promulgated by the Department, then the Department shall not be required to provide said conditions of confinement to the extent it is unable to do so because of the inmate population at that facility. The Commissioner shall determine the design capacity of each of the facilities maintained by the Department.
(e) For purposes of this Section, the term "inmate population" shall include both convicted and pre-trial detentioners."
Approved June 8, 1979