Criminal Justice Reform In PA: Navigating the Path Forward

Criminal Justice Reform In PA: Navigating the Path Forward

Forum at East Stroudsburg University on March 30, 2019

I attended an interesting discussion on Saturday afternoon on criminal justice reform in Pennsylvania.

Given the enormous cost of housing so many inmates in our Pennsylvania prisons, there is now bipartisan support for reforms.

Did you know?

The cost of housing inmates in Pennsylvania is staggering. One of the panelists from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections reported that the cost to Pennsylvania taxpayers of housing prisoners in State Correctional facilities is $2.4 billion annually.  The U.S. now houses 25% of the global prison population. With the growing opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania, many of our prisons and County jails must treat non-violent opioid addicted addicts and those with mental health issues and prisons are often ill-equipped to treat these inmates.

In Pennsylvania, the cost of housing an inmate is approximately $42,000 per year.

Clearly, there are offenders whom we are forced to incarcerate but much of the reforms are prompted in part by the opioid epidemic that is not just a Pennsylvania problem but a growing nationwide concern.

Clean Slate Law

The panelists also spoke about Pennsylvania’s new “Clean Slate Law,” the first phase of which went into effect in December 2018.

Under this law, anyone who has been convicted of a lower-level, nonviolent misdemeanor and who has stayed out of trouble for at least a decade, can ask the court to seal his record from public view.

Additionally, it allows for automatic sealing of records for second-or third-degree misdemeanors if the offender’s sentence was less than 2 years and he’s stayed “clean” for 10 years. It also provides for automatic sealing if a person was charged but not convicted.

As a judicial candidate, I am very much interested in this topic. However, every Pennsylvania citizen should be equally interested since we are all paying an exorbitant cost towards financing our criminal justice system.



$postedon 31 Mar 2019, 9:37 - $blogcat: Events