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Pennsylvania General Prison Talk, News, Introductions & Chit Chat Topics & Discussions relating to Prison & the Criminal Justice System in Pennsylvania that do not fit into any other Pennsylvania sub-forum category. Please feel free to also introduce yourself to other members in the state and talk about whatever topics come to mind that may not have anything to do with prison.

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Old 10-02-2019, 09:59 AM
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Question Pennsylvania Lifers Bill

Hello everyone, I was wondering if anyone had any updates on the bill for Pennsylvania lifers convicted of first-degree second-degree murder? My husband was convicted of first-degree murder but did not do the actual crime. He wasnt even present at the time of the murder. He has served 15 years of this sentence. If this new bill is passed, I am praying he would be one of the inmates to receive some relief. Does anyone have updates on it? Any progress? Or where can I find current information? Thanks a lot, and hang in there everyone❤️
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Old 10-06-2019, 06:34 AM
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SB 942 was the bill last term. It was introduced by Senator Street. It died in the Judiciary Committee, but the Senators I spoke with said they always knew it would. the reasons are political.

HB 135 is the new bill. It adjusts the juvenile life sentences for second degree, which is a necessary first step in reducing the overall scheme. It then grants the Board the power to parole after 20 years and thirty years in different murder scenarios. HB 135 is in the House Judiciary Committee, where it is not expected to survive (for political reasons.) There is some hope that a companion bill will be introduced in the Senate after Winter Recess and it could possibly get some traction.

This information is current. I was briefed on this topic just last week by our legislative team.
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Old 12-04-2019, 03:13 PM
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May I inquire about the "political reasons" these bills have not been able to move forward? And what if anything can be done to encouraged them to be passed (aside from contacting state reps and senators)... So ready for change...
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Old 12-04-2019, 05:45 PM
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Here's a link to the Pennsylvania Capital Star's March 2019 article explaining the various criminal justice reform bills proposed for the most recent legislative session. "This is every way the state Senate plans to reform criminal justice this session". After the session ends, you can check to see if any of their claims were accurate, or just more political BS. The article claims bipartisan support for some of the proposed changes to the current laws, but the elephant in the room is the reluctance of most politicians to be labeled as being "soft on crime" during their next reelection campaigns.
https://www.penncapital-star.com/cri...-this-session/
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Old 12-08-2019, 08:11 AM
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As FBOPNOMORE said, the reality is political. The way our legislature works, the representatives are always up for re-election. It's a two-year cycle. The senators are a little better. If your opponent says you're soft on crime, you're done. Political reality is based on public sentiment, and public sentiment towards crime isn't shifting very fast. (How many prime time shows are law enforcement oriented?) You change the politics by educating the public, and you're competing with those media messages. I've been advocating for almost 20 years, so I know the frustration.

We just had five parolees implicated in six homicides this summer. Guess what the legislators (and their future opponents) are looking at. Releasing ANYONE sooner requires evidence that they won't recidivate, and it only takes one high-profile reoffense to slam the doors. (How many remember Mudman Simon?)

Our parole for Murder-1 and Murder-2 is complex. We didn't go low enough with juveniles (25 and 35 years), so there isn't a lot of room for the adults. If you're trying to generate compassion for adults who killed, you need to build on the compassion for juveniles who killed. this is why recent efforts continue to fail.

The obvious approach is to revisit the juvenile numbers and push them lower -- like in the range of 10 or 15 years. The second step is to address adult Murder-2 defendants and aim for 20 or 25 years. Finally, we push for adult Murder-1 defendants and aim for 30 years, which would be in keeping with nationwide averages. (FYI, many states remain pure LWOP, so this isn't like we'd be following a national trend.)

LG Fetterman is truly a hero in his efforts to reduce mass incarceration and his provide relief for LWOP inmates. He's taking the alternative path of making commutation a reality again. (Former Governor Ridge takes the blame for ending a meaningful commutation process, something we fought all the way to the US Supreme Court for nearly ten years.) My hope is that Mr. Fetterman will be the next governor and continue to reform; it would also help if the General Assembly flipped to Democrat.
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Old 01-22-2020, 12:04 PM
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SB942 has been re-submitted earlier this month. Although the language is similar to the previous Bill [submitted last March and then pulled], the focus is empowering the Parole Board to make parole decisions on lifers who have served 25 years [2nd degree] and 35 years [1st degree]. If you want to read the Bill, go to PA General Assembly and then enter the Bill, "SB942". Yes, it is likely to sit in the Judiciary Committee unless a majority of Committee members call for a hearing [not expected to happen].
CADBI, the Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration, is a grass-roots organization that has been building momentum over the past 3+ years. Our main chapter is in Philly but there are also Chapters in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Delaware County, Lancaster/York. We have a statewide coordinator who would be glad to work with others living in other areas of PA to begin a Chapter. Feel free to PM me for more info. Our website is: info.decarceratepa/cadbi. Many of us are also involved in the supporting individuals who are considering and/or have begun the commutation process; I am available to discuss questions about the process and can review applications [no cost]. The Board of Pardons website has a lot of good info too. www.bop.pa.gov
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