A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

The House and Senate are in session on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Criminal Justice Reform Act advances to Senate floor

The Senate Appropriations Committee has voted to send the Criminal Justice Reform Act– Senate Bill 100 (Greenleaf-R-Montgomery)– to the Senate floor. The bill is on this week’s Senate calendar.

The legislation contains several provisions that address prison overcrowding, recidivism, and reduce the high costs of incarceration. Senate Bill 100 continues the prison reform movement in Pennsylvania, makes better use of already existing alternative sentencing programs, and relies on principles that have been proven highly effective in other states.

The bill allows the Department of Corrections to quickly move offenders with short minimum sentences to community corrections centers for community-based treatment.

The bill establishes the Safe Community Reentry Program. The legislation requires the DOC to establish a comprehensive program to reduce recidivism and ensure the successful reentry and reintegration of offenders into the community.

The bill will make more nonviolent offenders eligible for Pennsylvania’s alternative sentencing programs. These programs include county intermediate punishment, state intermediate punishment, state motivational boot camp, and the recidivism risk reduction incentive (RRRI).

The bill establishes a county probation program providing for swift, predictable and immediate sanctions on offenders who violate their probation. Currently, parole violations are often punished with lengthy prison sentences that are costly to taxpayers, and fail to reduce recidivism.

Senate committee hearings

September 26–Senate Appropriations Committee meets to consider Senate Bill 354 (Folmer-R-Lebanon) relating to the implementation of the federal REAL ID Act, Senate Bill 850 (Greenleaf-R-Montgomery) relating to cyberbullying, expungement of juvenile records and other changes.

September 27– Senate Judiciary Committee meets to consider Senate Bill 397 (MJ White-R-Venango) imposition of the death sentence in cases of mental retardation, Senate Bill 775 (Pileggi-R-Delaware) providing for the use of DNA data and testing, Senate Bill 1220 (Solobay-D-Washington) relating to criminal record expungement.

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