In a bill signing ceremony today, the Department of Correction's (DOC) Women's Work Release Treatment Center in New Castle was renamed after Representative Hazel D. Plant. Governor Jack Markell, DOC Commissioner Carl Danberg, numerous legislators, clergy, community representatives and members of the Plant family attended the signing ceremony, which officially changed the center's name to the Hazel D. Plant Women's Treatment Facility.
Plant, who died November 24, 2010, served as State Representative for the 2nd District for more than 10 years. Today's event honored her service to the State of Delaware and her special interest in women's issues and the corrections system.
"If Hazel were here, she would tell the women here that she believes in them," said the Governor. "Many ended up at this facility because they didn't believe in themselves. I want them to know we believe in them. Even though women who will pass through these doors will not get to know Hazel Plant personally, she will be right here with them in spirit, helping them get back on the right path."
"Hazel Plant was more engaged in visiting our facilities than any other lawmaker," said Commissioner Danberg. "She wanted, more than anything, to empower young women to make their lives better."
The renaming of the facility was brought about by House Bill 208, which was passed by the 146th General Assembly in June 2011. The bill was sponsored by Rep. James Johnson, Rep. Dennis P. Williams, Rep. Helene Keeley, Sen. Bruce Ennis & Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, who attended today's bill signing with Speaker of the House Robert Gilligan, who co-sponsored the bill.
"Hazel had a good right to be bitter about offenders and the criminal justice system," said Rep. James Johnson, referring to the tragic murder of Plant's granddaughter. "But she wasn't. She was a forgiving person."
To the Plant family, Rep. Dennis Williams said, "The Wilmington community misses your mother and father. There will never be legislators like your mother and father."
Plant's husband, former State Representative Al O. Plant, died in 2001.
"Hazel Plant has left a true legacy to the state of Delaware," said Rep. Helene Keeley. "Not a day goes by that I don't miss her."
"No one was more dedicated to empowerment than Hazel Plant," said Sen. Bruce Ennis. "She was also dedicated to treatment. She knew it could make a difference."
"It was amazing that such an angel was able to serve as a member of the General Assembly," said Sen. Margaret Rose Henry. "She was quiet and strong and made you want to do good."
"Hazel knew her people, what they needed and how to help them," said House Speaker Bob Gilligan. "She didn't care about getting credit. She cared about getting things done. Every time she was down, she had the reserve to get back up again."
The treatment center opened in October 2005 and is the only all-female facility of its kind in the State. Residents participate in a comprehensive substance treatment program with a work release component. There are currently 87 residents in the facility.