Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $800,000)
The Delaware Department of Justice’s Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust (DCRPT) proposes to enhance its efforts to raise awareness and prosecution of hate crimes statewide by hiring a social worker and expanding our outreach efforts to especially focus on school-age children.
The new social worker—which will be DCRPT’s first and only—coupled with an increased public outreach program, will build on the momentum created last year when DCRPT successfully sought passage of what could be considered the strongest state-level hate crime statute in the country. The social worker will support victims of hate crimes at all stages of prosecution, from case intake through trial preparation, trial, sentencing, and the seemingly unending appellate and pardon process that often triggers their revictimization. Importantly, this social worker will be trained in engaging with victims of hate and bias, and educated on best practices in confronting hate groups, hate symbols, and crimes based on discrimination.
The social worker would also help to facilitate mediation in situations where hate activity has occurred but prosecution is not the best solution.
DCRPT has grown from a small office of two attorneys, three investigators, and no paralegals in 2015 to a full-fledged division with statewide authority over police use of force, anticorruption and official misconduct, civil rights enforcement, election crimes, conviction integrity reviews, immigration services, and all hate crimes.
DCRPT has hosted statewide discussion of various civil rights issues with stakeholders throughout the state on a variety of subjects, something that had not happened before in Delaware. These sessions were initially held on Zoom due to the pandemic. These discussions helped to open lines of communication between DCRPT and the community as well as to educate DCRPT staff about the issues that matter most to the community. Now, DCRPT would like to expand our outreach by going into schools and conducting presentations for students.
DCRPT has tracked incidents of bias and hate since 2020.* Unfortunately, there is an annual, steady trend of increased incidents of bias and hate in Delaware. For example, in 2021, the agencies tracked 13 incidents of hate crimes based on race, which increased to 17 incidents in 2022. Additionally, hate crimes based on religion was 0 in 2021 and increased to 10 in 2022.
* Incidents include cases that were either criminally prosecuted, referred to another law enforcement agency, or unresolved.