HARRISBURG – The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), today passed a package of bills aimed at enabling rehabilitation of convicted criminals who have paid their debt to society and rewarding those individuals who show they are reformed by getting them out of the criminal justice system quicker and with fewer collateral consequences.
“I am a firm believer in holding criminals accountable for their actions,” said Kauffman. “However, I also believe that in order to help these men and women turn their lives around and be successful members of society, we need to support their rehabilitation efforts and eliminate barriers that can hold them back from achieving success once they have served their time.”
The package of criminal justice reform bills passed by the House Judiciary Committee are as follows:
• House Bill 440
– Would mandate expungement of an individual’s record if he or she has been pardoned or acquitted of all charges, based on the same conduct or arising from the same alleged criminal episode. The Commonwealth would receive notice of a potential expungement and would have an opportunity to object and conduct a hearing.
• House Bill 1477
– Would define when a board, commission or department of the Commonwealth may deny the issuance or renewal of an occupational license as a result of a criminal conviction.
• House Bill 1555
– Would impose rebuttable caps on the possible length of any probationary term, restrict the sanctions for probation violators and provide various means by which a person on probation can reduce the length of probation.
• House Bill 2040
– Would create the PA Second Chance Jobs website to provide a free and voluntary website where employers may advertise employment opportunities for former offenders.
• Senate Bill 500
– Would establish an advisory committee on adult county probation within the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency, establish Justice Reinvestment grants, and reinvest cost savings into county probation and parole.
• Senate Bill 501
– Would incorporate the county intermediate punishment program into county probation, rename the state intermediate punishment program as the state drug treatment program, provide for presumptive parole for certain short-term minimum sentences in state correctional institutions, amend the duties of the PA Sentencing Commission and add other correctional system and sentencing changes commonly known as “Justice Reinvestment Initiative 2.” In addition, minimum mandatory sentencing guidelines would be imposed for crimes against children, and there would be a mandatory 12-month period of re-entry parole supervision for inmates who “max out” on their sentences and thus would otherwise be subject to release without any supervision.
• Senate Bill 502
– Would make changes to the Crime Victims Act regarding victims’ rights, the responsibilities of agencies that deal with victims and the award of crime victim compensation.
• House Resolution 619
– Would direct the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study to collect and organize data regarding historic funding and caseloads relating to indigent criminal defense in Pennsylvania.
• House Resolution 620
– Would direct the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study regarding identification and evaluation of all categories of individuals authorized by state law to exercise arrest or other police powers.
• House Resolution 634
– Would establishing the Task Force on Technical Probation Violations.
“This package is about smart justice,” said Kauffman. “Those individuals who have demonstrated a desire to improve their behavior and make better choices in life will have the support they need to become productive citizens and find employment. And those who refuse rehabilitation will be kept supervised or locked away.
“Without providing those on probation and parole with pathways to success, we increase the risk of them repeating their mistakes and harming our society,” continued Kauffman. “We need to hold people accountable, but we also need to recognize that people do have the capacity for change.”
These bills now go to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
Representative Rob Kauffman
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman