NEW YORK, April 2, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the REFORM Alliance and Pennsylvania House Representatives collaborated to unveil legislation aimed at reforming the Pennsylvania probation and parole system.
REFORM Alliance Co-Chairs Meek Mill and Michael Rubin and CEO Van Jones – alongside Rep. Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia),Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland), and others – were on hand at the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building to introduce plans for the significant, bipartisan bill proposal.
The legislation would prevent Pennsylvania probationers and parolees from getting engulfed in the criminal justice system for non-violent, technical probations. The proposed bill would also include the following changes in the Philadelphia court system:
- Prevent the courts from sentencing a person to consecutive probation sentences
- Prevent the court from extending a person's time on probation or parole due to nonpayment of fines and fees
- Establish a system of incentives that reward good behavior
Additionally, the legislation would ensure that people under supervision would not be re-incarcerated for testing positive for marijuana, associating with someone with a criminal history or traveling outside their jurisdiction (unless it can be proven they were trying to escape supervision).
"This proposed bill is the first step in changing the criminal justice system and it's only right that we start in my home state," Meek said. "I've lost too much time away from my son, my family, my friends and fans in Philly because of outdated probation laws, so I want to make sure people don't have go through what I did."
Pennsylvania has the second highest percentage of citizens on probation and parole in the U.S. and the highest incarceration rate in the entire western hemisphere. In the last 40 years alone, Pennsylvania's prison population has increased 850 percent, with over 80,000 Pennsylvanians in prison on any given day.
"We believe that you can significantly reduce the number of people under community supervision while keeping communities safe and that's what we're looking to achieve with this proposed legislation," Rubin said. "What happened to Meek was a travesty, but I'm thrilled that we have an opportunity to right those wrongs in our home state of Pennsylvania."
The introduction of this proposed legislation is an early step in the REFORM Alliance's overall mission of passing probation and parole bills – at the state level – to reduce the number of people who are under control of the criminal justice system.
Multiple advocacy groups from the right and the left -- including the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, The Commonwealth Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, #cut50, Justice Action Network, American Civil Liberties Union and Families Against Mandatory Minimums -- supported REFORM's endeavors with the Pennsylvania House Representatives.
"With this proposed legislation, we want to put people on probation and parole in positions to succeed – not to wind up back in prison and perpetuate an ongoing cycle," Jones said. "I appreciate the work and time that Representatives Harris and Delozier have devoted to collaborating with the REFORM Alliance to address this bipartisan issue. This is just beginning, and there's more work to be done."
To learn more about the alliance, please visit https://reformalliance.com/ or @REFORM on social media.
About REFORM Alliance
The REFORM Alliance is committed to advancing criminal justice reform and eradicating laws and policies that perpetuate injustice in the United States. To achieve that objective, the REFORM Alliance will strive to pass probation bills at the state level, use media to amplify the need for comprehensive reform and build an inclusive, bi-partisan alliance of leaders from the business, entertainment, sports and community industries who share a cohesive vision for ambitiously and efficiently transforming the criminal justice system.
To learn more about the alliance, please visit https://reformalliance.com/.
SOURCE REFORM Alliance