HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) Reforming the criminal justice system in Pennsylvania. The governor and lawmakers calling for action. Harrisburg Reporter Matt Heckel has the story.
“No one’s level of wealth, no one’s race, their creed, should lead to different conditions in imprisonment,” said Governor Tom Wolf calling on Pennsylvania lawmakers Thursday to pass a package of eight initiative designed to reform the state’s criminal justice system.
“We need to work to make our criminal justice system more fair, more equitable, and more focused on rehabilitation.” the Governor Added
The initiatives include bail and pre-trial reforms… Making sure everyone has a right to a fair trial
“If they don’t present a risk, they shouldn’t be incarcerated pre-trial, simply because they don’t have the fifty dollars to make bail,” noted John Wetzel, Department of Corrections Secretary
The Governor also asking to adopt a standard assessment tool for sentencing. Clean slate legislation to allow those convicted to re-enter society after being released and to make sure even those without money have access to legal help. Right now, Pennsylvania’s the only state that doesn’t provide state funding to a public defender system.
“Everyone deserves adequate legal representation, regardless of their ability to pay,” said Governor Wolf.
And supporters say with previous criminal justice reform bills in 2012 resulting in savings of 400 million dollars through lower prison population. These latest reforms wouldn’t only be good for those who serve time but also for the community as a whole.
“Many times, when individuals can’t post arbitrary bail or are clogging up the criminal justice system, not only is there a human impact, but there’s an impact directly to tax dollars,” added George Hartwick, Dauphin County Commissioner.
And the Governor pointing out that since those previous criminal justice reforms six years ago the state’s prison population has dropped by more than three thousand inmates.