Supreme Court adopts Pa.R.A.P. 1941: Review of Sufficiency of the Evidence and the Propriety of the Penalty in Death Penalty Appeals.
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(The information below is from Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest.)
Pennsylvania Bulletin: Commission on Sentencing invites comments on new Sentencing Guidelines
The Commission on Sentencing published for public comment Amendment 4 of the 7th Edition of Sentencing Guidelines in the October 21 PA Bulletin. Click Here for the formal notice, summary of changes and text of changes.
Additional Common Pleas Judges: Senate Bill 222 (Greenleaf-R-Montgomery) providing for additional Common Pleas judges was amended on the House Floor, referred into and out of the House Appropriations Committee and passed by the House with amendments. A House Fiscal Note and summary is available. The bill returns to the Senate for a concurrence vote. The bill creates two judgeships for Bucks County and one judgeship for Montgomery County.
Legal Services: Senate Bill 741 (Greenleaf-R-Montgomery) funding for courts and indigent legal services was amended on the House Floor, referred into and out of the House Appropriations Committee and passed by the House. A House Fiscal Note and summary is available. The bill returns to the Senate for a concurrence vote.
Crime Victims: Senate Bill 260 (Ward-R-Westmoreland) further providing for crime victim representation was referred into and out of the House Appropriations Committee and passed by the House. A House Fiscal Note and summary is available. The bill now goes to the Senate for action.
Controlled Substances: Senate Bill 674 (Rafferty-R- Montgomery) implementing automatic schedule changes for controlled substances in Pennsylvania was amended and reported from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and is now on the Senate Calendar for action.
Domestic/Sexual Violence Victims: Senate Bill 919 (Haywood-D-Philadelphia) relocation of victims of domestic and sexual violence relocation into public housing was amended and reported from the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee and is now on the Senate Calendar for action.
October 23, 24, 25
November 13, 14, 15
December 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20
October 23, 24, 25 are cancelled.
November 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22,
December 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20
Public hearings and meetings
October 27– Joint hearings by the House Judiciary Committee on House Bill 42 (Saccone-R- Allegheny) further providing for the removal of license suspensions for non-driving offenses (sponsor summary) and the House Transportation Committee on House Resolution 76 (Miller-D-Allegheny) concurrent resolution on removing federally mandated license suspension for individuals convicted for a drug offense (sponsor summary). South Hills Country Club, Pittsburgh. 10:00.
November 6– NEW. Department of Health Medical Marijuana Advisory Board meeting. Hearing Room 1, Keystone Building, Harrisburg. 10:00. (formal notice)
December 6-7– Commission On Sentencing. PA Judicial Center, 601 Commonwealth Avenue., Harrisburg. (formal notice for details)
Governor Wolf announces consolidation of Department of Corrections and Board of Probation and Parole
Governor Tom Wolf Thursday announced that his administration is moving ahead with a Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole that results in the combining of the agencies’ similar, shared and overlapping resources and functions.
The consolidation will be effective immediately upon signing of the MOU by all involved parties, including the chairman of the PBPP, the secretary of the DOC, the respective agencies’ chief counsels, and the deputy general counsel of the Office of General Counsel.
The Administrative Code authorizes Commonwealth agencies to enter into agreements for cooperation and coordination of work and the elimination of duplicating and overlapping of functions and allows the respective parties to share in the use of employees, land, buildings, facilities and equipment.
“On June 30, both the House and Senate passed a $31.83 billion budget that decreased spending while still prioritizing funding for important government functions like schools, health and safety,” Governor Wolf said. “That budget was passed based on the bipartisan agreement that the DOC and PBPP’s parole supervision duties be consolidated under one agency.
“This MOU puts Pennsylvanians first by respecting their finances and their security while shrinking the size of state government,” Governor Wolf said. “We are moving forward in our efforts to eliminate bureaucratic redundancies and to do so while still allowing these agencies to continue to serve their individual missions. This is government that works.
“We are giving legislators exactly what they have been calling for – taxpayer savings through the restructuring of state government; and we’re doing so in a way that continues to provide for public safety while eliminating duplication of efforts.”
Senator Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), Majority Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, praised the move saying, “After consulting with administration officials in recent years, I have been eyeing this consolidation as a way to drastically improve the performance of both departments and better execute the many reforms that we have worked so hard to put in place.
“I would like to thank Governor Wolf for recognizing the great value in this merger and his willingness to help us advance corrections reforms and save taxpayer dollars. The Senate Appropriations Committee has estimated an annual cost savings of over $32.2 million by the fifth year,” said Sen. Greenleaf.
Drew Crompton, Chief of Staff for Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) Tweeted Thursday, “General Assembly inaction does not then legally permit the Gov. office to merge departments by MOU which actually takes a law to do just that.”
Under the MOU, both agencies– the DOC and the PBPP– will remain separate from each other; however, the community supervision of parolees and all other reentry services will be combined under a new, centralized chain of command that everyone in those areas will report to and follow.
It will involve reentry tasks, such as but not limited to inmate/reentrant records, inmate/reentrant reentry planning, reentrant placement and supervision and parole violation management and return process.
“Today is an important day in Pennsylvania’s criminal justice history,” DOC Secretary John Wetzel said. “By combining similar reentry and parole supervision duties and responsibilities, officials now can fine-tune and focus their efforts as they relate to reentry.
“This move, while saving taxpayer dollars, also allows for better and more timely record-sharing, allows for consistent delivery of reentry programming, better employee communications and training, and better transition via a smooth handoff to community parole agents and supervisors. We look forward to a close and productive partnership with our Parole Board coworkers.”
DOC and PBPP personnel combined within the new organizational structure will fall within direct supervision of that new structure, but shall remain employees of the respective agencies. Employees will continue fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of their respective agencies and there will be no changes in salaries or collective bargaining agreements.
“Employees from each agency should report to work as normal on their next scheduled shift/work day,” Secretary Wetzel said. “There should be no disruption in services staff provide to individuals, nor should employees themselves encounter any disruptions where their employment statuses or duties are concerned.”
“The MOU does not change the independency of the Parole Board,” PBPP Chairman Leo Dunn said. “The Parole Board will continue to exercise its exclusive and independent decision-making role with regard to decisions to parole, re-parole, commit and recommit for violations of parole and to discharge persons sentenced by any court at any time to imprisonment in a correctional institution.”
In addition, the Office of Victim Advocate and the Sex Offender Assessment Board will continue to be independent from the DOC.
Finally, this MOU will consolidate the agencies’ business administration offices, internal affairs and investigative offices. The communications/public information offices will also be combined.
The MOUs that DOC and PBPP had previously entered into to consolidate information technology, management of data and research functions will continue and not be affected by this new MOU.
“We look forward to working with our PBPP coworkers to enhance public safety by streamlining community supervision of parolees, and we will hold a number of leadership meetings soon to help reinforce this positive relationship,” Wetzel said.
Realizing that change may give rise to questions, officials encourage employees to send their questions, comments and concerns about the MOU to: Rafirstname.lastname@example.org.
On May 24 the Senate passed Senate Bill 522 and Senate Bill 523, both sponsored by Senator Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) to consolidate the Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole.
The bills are now in the House Judiciary Committee which has held a hearing on the issue May 25 on the issue.
President Theodore Roosevelt, born October 27, 1858