No one without a foot-long rap sheet wants a crack house or gang gathering place in their neighborhood. Aside from attracting undesirables, they’re eyesores that reduce property values in the surrounding area. So, in 2007, Delaware instituted the Drug Nuisance and Social Vices Abatement Act. Under its auspices, the Delaware Department of Justice can take a variety of measures against so-called crack houses, up to and including seizing identified properties. By all accounts, the program has worked well so far. Over 140 properties having been ‘rehabilitated’. Over 300 more are on the DOJ’s watch list. Sounds like a success. But if you’re Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden [above left], it isn’t enough . . .
As you probably know, Beau’s the son of our current vice president. The younger Biden’s worked with pals in the Delaware senate to write Senate Bill 65 to expand the definition of a nuisance property under the law. The bill hasn’t been posted on the Delaware legislature’s web site yet. According to delmarvanow.com, the new bill would substantially broaden the DOJ’s reach:
Senate Bill 65 expands abatement to include gun crimes, gang activity, high levels of violent crime and other offenses that negatively impact the community. It also allows the court to consider increased police calls, decreased property values and neighbors’ fear in making decisions.
Increased police calls? Decreased property values? Sounds like just about every fraternity house I’ve ever seen or stumbled out of. And just what does “neighbors’ fear in making decisions” mean? How does an attorney from the DOJ assess that?
That brings us to gun crimes. Delaware has some of the highest incidences of firearm robbery and assault crimes in the nation, 5th and 8th respectively. So the question isn’t academic.
Let’s say your teenage son gets in with the wrong crowd and mugs someone at gunpoint. Away from home. Is that enough to take your house? Or you head to the range and, due to inexperience and poor training, negligently discharge your weapon. The stray round strikes someone else in the foot and you’re charged with assault. Can you lose your home because of that? Are you relying on the discretion of a publicly employed attorney?
Now I know prosecutorial abuse and government agency overreach are rare. Rare like dollar bills coming off the printing press at the mint. And I’d like to see the exact wording of the new bill. But until then that ever-increasing libertarian streak in me has my Spidey senses tingling. And I don’t even live in Delaware.