Criminal Justice Reform Legislation

Status Update 4-26-18

Bills in the House

  • Senate Bills 522 and 523: Consolidates the Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole into a single agency. Creates greater efficiency and communication where the agencies’ functions overlap. Permits better coordination to achieve positive outcomes for offenders.
    Status: Passed Senate May 24, 2017.  Referred to the House Judiciary Committee
  • Senate Bill 554: Creates a Safe Harbor for human trafficking victims so that these children will not be prosecuted for prostitution and related offenses. Recognizes that these children are victims of physical and psychological abuse, not perpetrators of crime.
    Status: Passed the Senate April 25, 2017. Referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
  • Senate Bill 742: Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights. Creates a right for sexual assault victims to have a forensic medical examination performed free of charge and to have evidence preserved until the maximum applicable statute of limitations expires.
    Status: Passed the Senate April 17, 2018. Referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
  • Senate Bill 915: Post-Conviction Relief Act Amendments. Expands the time period for a convicted offender to file a petition in court for post-conviction relief.|
    Status: Passed the Senate April 17, 2018. Referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
  • Senate Bill 916: DNA Testing for Conviction Integrity. Expands the use of DNA testing for the exoneration of offenders who claim to be innocent of the offense for which they were incarcerated.
    Status: Passed the Senate April 17, 2018. Referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
  • Senate Bills 1070, 1071 and 1072: Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) Phase 2: Senator Greenleaf participated in the working group of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative and will introduce legislation to implement the group’s work, especially with regard to support for adult county probation departments.
    Status: Passed the Senate April 25, 2018. Referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Bills Reported Out of Senate Judiciary Committee

  • Senate Bill 59: Prison Industry Enhancement. Allows the Department of Corrections and county prisons to join a federal program in which they partner with private industry to employ prison inmates. Provides “real world” job skills and instills the habit of going to work, while providing “real world” wages that will pay for restitution to crime victims and support for family members of the inmate.
    Status: Currently tabled in the Senate
  • Senate Bill 62: Implements findings of a Joint State Government Commission study of the effects of parental incarceration on children. Addresses the standard for termination of parental rights when a parent is incarcerated and the training police receive regarding how to treat children during the arrest of a parent.
    Status: Currently tabled in the Senate.
  • Senate Bill 859: Criminal Justice and Mental Health Reinvestment Act. Establishes a grant program to assist counties in diverting from the criminal justice system individuals with mental health problems.
    Status: Currently in Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • Senate Bill 860: Criminal Justice and Addiction Treatment Act. Requires a comprehensive pre-release plan for addicted offenders in prison. Requires training of law enforcement officers who encounter addicted persons.
    Status: Currently in Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • Senate Bill 1036: Criminal Justice Debt: Fines & Fees and the Indigent. This legislation will help to ensure that offenders will not be incarcerated solely because they could not pay fines and fees imposed on them.
    Status: Currently on Second Consideration in the Senate

Bills Remaining in Senate Judiciary Committee

  • Senate Bill 61: Criminal defense for the indigent. Creates a training center for public defenders and other attorneys who defend the indigent in criminal proceedings. Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that provides no direct funding for indigent criminal defense.
  • Senate Bill 855: Requires notifications to defendants about the collateral consequences of pleading guilty or being convicted by a jury. Provides a mechanism by which offender may receive a “certificate of rehabilitation” to present to employers and landlords.
  • Senate Bill 1043: Use of Criminal Records in Employment. Provides current employees with same protections that job applicants currently enjoy. Bars use of past criminal convictions in employment decisions unless conviction relates to specific responsibilities of the position.
  • Senate Bill 1053: Provides for compensation to people who establish that they were wrongfully convicted and incarcerated.
  • Senate Bill 1083: Cap on County Probation: This legislation limits the period of confinement for probation violations to six months as the General Assembly did with regard to state parole violations. (*No longer pushing as this issue is being addressed via JRI Phase 2)
  • Senate Resolution 312: Brady Violations: A resolution urging the PA Supreme Court to make certain rule changes related to the disclosure of so-called Bradymaterials by prosecutors and the steps that a prosecutor should take to remedy a conviction when the prosecutor learns of information leading to a reasonable belief that a convicted defendant is actually innocent.
  • Senate Bill 1133: Grand Jury Reforms: This legislation amends the grand jury process to prevent future violations of constitutionally protected rights. The bill will clarify what documents and materials are subject to grand jury secrecy and require notice to all appropriate parties before such materials are disclosed to the public. It will clarify when a grand jury witness may publicly disclose his or her own testimony.
  • Senate Bill 1141: Protection from Firearm Violence Orders: Allows a citizen to petition the court for an order suspending the firearms rights of a person known to have a propensity toward violence. 

Bill Awaiting Introduction

  • Diversion from Arrest for Those with Addiction or Mental Illness: As part of the reform of our state’s bail practices, Senator Greenleaf will introduce legislation to require assessments at various points in the criminal justice system to determine whether a person should be diverted to treatment. ALEC has a model policy of pre-arrest diversion.
    Status: *In the process of developing legislation (circulated co-sponsor memo).