Check out the Reform Matters! Page for Legislation to Watch in the 2013 Session
- Expungement of Criminal Records: Employment is a key factor in keeping ex-offenders from returning to crime. However, people seeking employment with criminal records, despite demonstrated purpose in wanting to be law-abiding citizens, can not find jobs with living wages.
- Mandatory Minimum Judicial Discretion: Judges would have the ability to impose less than a mandatory minimum sentence on offenders if a mandatory sentence would result in a “substantial injustice”.
- Increased Accountability in Arrest and Judicial Proceedings: As a result of a study of wrongful convictions in Pennsylvania made by a comprehensive cross-section of members involved in criminal justice, recommendations were made to improve the arrest, interrogation and court proceedings for alleged perpetrators. Senator Greenleaf is also suggesting an ad hoc committee that would meet to talk on education and training on interrogations, eyewitness identification processes and use of informant testimony so best practices can be shared and training can be coordinated throughout the state agencies.
- Post-Conviction Relief Petitions: Post-Conviction Relief petitions would be extended from 60 days to one year for “any petition filed under this subchapter alleging a miscarriage of justice that led to the conviction of a person who was factually innocent of the crime for which the person was convicted, in light of all the credible evidence available at and subsequent to trial, may be filed at any time”. Innocent people should not be in prison because they are time-barred from proving their cases in court.
- Children of Incarcerated Parents Relief: Based on the report of the Advisory Committee for the study of “The Effects of Parental Incarceration on Children”, training would be provided to law enforcement officers to ensure child safety upon the arrest of a parent or guardian. The bill includes training of officers on helping to mitigate the trauma to children of witnessing the arrest of a parent or guardian and any other emotional situations they may have experienced.
Innocence Commission Fact Sheet
Advisory Committee on Wrongful Convictions 2011
Advisory Committee on the Effects of Incarceration on Children 2011
The adverse effects of legislation on sentencing outcomes are discussed by Judge Jeffrey K. Sprecher, of the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County, in his new book, "Justice or Just This?"
Justice & Mercy recommends it as required reading for every citizen of our Commonwealth. Judge Sprecher explains how sentencing has become controlled by the executive and legislative branches of government.
We all pay a price for this "constitutional trespass".
Find out how you can help at www.jeffreysprecher.com.