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Former Law Enforcement Officials Call for Criminal Law Reforms, Legalized Pot

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Delaware Law Enforcement for Progress President James Spadola, seen here giving out free hugs, is a former Newark police officer.

A new organization that includes former police officers and prosecutors is calling for major changes to the state’s criminal justice system, saying, “the war on drugs … has failed miserably.”

Delaware Law Enforcement for Progress (DLEP) launched this week with an initial focus on liberalizing drug laws, strengthening citizen protections from asset forfeiture and eliminating the use of “ticket quotas” in local policing.

Led by James Spadola, who spent eight years with the Newark Police Department, the group includes two former deputy attorney generals, one of whom is now a public defender, an a 20-year veteran of the New Castle County Police Department. Spadola said DLEP was created to serve as a voice for law enforcement community members who “have a progressive stance on certain issues, but also the unique perspective of having served on the front lines of law enforcement.”

Citing the group’s focus on easing certain drug laws, Spadola said they believe that current approaches have failed because they treated drug addiction as a criminal and not a mental health challenge. “Legalizing marijuana is the first step in ending the war and hopefully eventually realizing that our drug problem is a mental health issue, and should be treated as such. Based on the raging heroin epidemic, it should be clear to all that our drug woes can’t be solved in the criminal justice system.”

DLEP joins a growing chorus of state leaders advocating changes to Delaware criminal policy, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo Strine who has proposed an overhaul of the entire criminal code and Attorney General Matt Denn who is backing legislation to amend drug laws.

To learn more about DLEP go to: https://dlep.org/

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