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

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Session schedule

Senate

Budget Hearings: Feb. 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, March 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (no session during hearings)

March 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13

May 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18

June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

House

Budget Hearings: Feb. 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, March 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (no session during hearings)

March 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13

May 2, 3, 4, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25

June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

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Sen. Leach releases language

refining the Felony Murder doctrine In PA

From Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest.

Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) Thursday unveiled the specific language of his bill to refine the felony murder doctrine in Pennsylvania.

“One of the foundational principles of justice is that we must punish people for crimes they commit or intend to commit in a way commensurate with the crimes,” said Sen. Leach. “The felony murder statute violates that principle, in that it imprisons for life people who did not kill or intend to kill anyone. Such an unjustified punishment undermines the effectiveness of our justice system and the public’s faith in it. Furthermore, paying to imprison someone for life, despite a lack of intent to kill anyone, is a bad deal for taxpayers, as it’s enormously costly but does not make the public safer.”

Sen. Leach explained his language in what will be Senate Bill 1138.

The language will continue to permit a sentence of life without parole for a person who commits murder during the course of committing a felony.

Under current law, if a person is involved as an accomplice in any felony, and a person is killed during the commission of that felony, the accomplice to the initial felony is guilty of second degree murder.

Sen. Leach said this is true even if the accomplice did not kill anyone, and even if the accomplice did not know that anyone would be killed or even could be killed.

In other words, if more than one person is involved in the perpetration of a felony, each person involved is legally responsible for a criminal homicide that occurs during the felony. A guilty verdict for second degree murder requires a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

The cost to taxpayers of imprisoning a person for life without parole is between $40,000 and $44,000 per year, and rises as the prisoner ages due to medical costs.

A copy of Sen. Leach’s bill language is available online.

Gov. Wolf signs criminal history

sealing expansion bill Into law

From Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest

.

Gov. Tom Wolf Tuesday signed Senate Bill 166, sponsored by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), into law, which expands criminal record sealing in Pennsylvaia in order to reduce recidivism, relieve the pardon system, and provide ex-offenders greater opportunity to join the workforce.

Gov. Wolf was joined at a bill signing ceremony by Sen. Greenleaf, Majority Chair and  Rep. Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia), Minority Chair of the Senate and House Judiciary committees and various criminal justice organizations.

“A low-level misdemeanor in one’s past is often a barrier when seeking employment, long after they have completed their sentence,” said Sen. Greenleaf. “A number of states have expanded their expungement laws to reduce the period during which a minor criminal record can punish people. Getting people back to work is not only the right thing to do, but it also decreases the chances that they will commit another crime.”

“The United States is the world leader in incarceration and a criminal record often carries a lifetime of consequences that often lead to poverty or re-incarceration,” Gov. Wolf said. “This law is a commonsense, positive and unprecedented step to help Pennsylvanians with minor or dated criminal records have a fighting chance at opportunities for gainful employment.

“Too many first-time and low-level offenders are serving their time and unable to improve their lives after leaving the system because they have a criminal record. And, they are too likely then to return to the system. We must do everything we can to break this cycle; it is robbing too many of their lives and it is costing taxpayers far too much.”

Senate Bill 166 amends Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) to allow individuals who have served their punishment and remained free of arrest or prosecution for seven to ten years, for nonviolent misdemeanors, to petition the court for their record to be sealed from public view.

Between 70 and 100 million Americans, or as many as one in three American adults, have some type of criminal record. A recent report estimated that between 33 and 36.5 million children in the United States—nearly half of all U.S. children—have at least one parent with a criminal record.

A criminal record often carries a lifetime of consequences, and even a minor criminal record can be a serious impediment to employment, housing, education and training, public assistance, financial empowerment, and more.

More than half of U.S. states (27) allow some misdemeanor and even felony convictions to be expunged or sealed. This Act allows certain criminal records to be sealed, meaning that law enforcement and state licensing agencies will continue to have access to those records – but those records will no longer be an impediment for employment or housing.

The act takes effect in 270 days.

The weeks ahead

 

February 23– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings: 10 a.m.- Judiciary. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.  Click Here to watch live.

February 23– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings:  1 p.m.- Judiciary. Room 140 Main Capitol.  Click Here to watch live.

February 23– NEW. House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts holds a hearing pursuant to House Resolution 659 (Everett-R-Lycoming) investigating the potential impeachment of indicted Attorney General Kathleen Kane.  Room 205 Ryan Building. 10:30 a.m.

February 24– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings: 1 p.m.- State Police/Homeland Security; 3:00- Dept. of Drug & Alcohol Programs. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.  Click Here to watch live.

 

February 29– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing:  3:30 p.m. Attorney General. Room 140 Main Capitol.  Click Here to watch live.

March 1–  House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing:  1 p.m.- State Police/Homeland Security. Room 140 Main Capitol.  Click Hereto watch live.

 

March 2-3– Commission on Sentencing. Harrisburg Hilton (dinner). PA Judicial Center, 601 Commonwealth Ave., Harrisburg (business). (formal notice)

March 3– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing: 9:30 a.m.- Dept. of Corrections/Board of Probation & Parole. Room 140 Main Capitol.  Click Here to watch live.

March 8– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing: 9:30 a.m. – Dept. of Health, Dept. of Drug & Alcohol Programs.  Room 140 Main Capitol.  Click Here to watch live.

March 16– House Gaming Oversight Committee holds a hearing on House Bill 1243 (Kinsey-D-Philadelphia) authorizing the Secretary of Revenue to withhold lottery prizes from convicted sex offenders (sponsor summary) (sponsor summary).  Room G-50 Irvis Building. 9:00.

News item

PA Gets New Study To Cut Crime, Prison Population (click for report)

(Source for all items Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest)

 

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