DOVER — Recently passed legislation is aimed to provide more opportunity for inmates to boost job skills, decrease incarceration time and increase chances for success upon release.
Senate Bill 158 now awaits Gov. John Carney’s signature, and a ceremony to finalize the process was postponed Thursday. The legislative sponsors asked that the signing be delayed due to a scheduling conflict, according to Department of Correction spokesman Jason Miller.
Mr. Miller said the governor does intend to sign the legislation at a later date. SB 158 was passed unanimously in the state House of Representatives and Senate in June.
The signing ceremony was scheduled to occur at the DOC headquarters following a change of command event for new Commissioner Monroe B. Hudson Jr.
According to its synopsis, “This bill expands prison-based jobs to provide work experience and job skill training and will assist offenders with reentry, while also maintaining Department of Correction facilities.
“DOC has not been able to increase the number of offender job opportunities at its facilities or increase inmate wages due to budget constraints; and allowing offenders to be either compensated or awarded additional good-time credits will allow the department to increase the number of offenders eligible to work and provide them with additional opportunities to earn good-time credits.
“Increasing the number of good-time credit days an offender may earn will enhance the incentive for inmates to participate in approved programs and productive work.”
The DOC said earlier attempts to bring more prison-based jobs to inmates through increased wages had failed. Sen. Darius Brown, D-Wilmington, worked with DOC during the most recent General Assembly session, however, to establish the legislation, along with Reps. Nnamdi Chukwuocha, Melissa Minor-Brown and Sherry Dorsey Walker.
Through the bill, the number of annual good-time credit days for inmates will rise from 160 to 180 days. With that, there’s more motivation for inmates to enter rehabilitation treatment programs and/or productive work, the DOC said.
The DOC said the bill allows for “a two-tier prison worker structure, with inmates first holding jobs that offer good-time credit and then moving up to earning an hourly wage and good-time credit as they demonstrate they are responsible and have good job performance.”