PA begins to move the needle in criminal justice reform

Local News

Reforming the state’s criminal justice system was a goal Governor Tom Wolf laid out for his second term.  Now, lawmakers are already taking steps toward that goal.

Lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle are coming together to pass laws that reform the state’s criminal justice system.  Laws they say are common sense and will help get people out of the criminal system and back to work. 

In his inauguration last week, the governor laid out changes he wants to see made in Pennsylvania over the next four years.

“Where we reform a criminal justice system that treats African Americans and the poor unjustly.”

The next day, Democrats and Republicans came together to work toward that goal.  Democratic Representative Jordan Harris and Republican Representative Sheryl Delozier teaming up to form the bipartisan bicameral, ‘Criminal Justice Reform Caucus’. 

Delozier says, “The ability for us to work, Republicans and Democrats, as well as the Senate and the House, together, speaks to the fact that there are a lot of people out there who recognize there can be changes to our criminal justice system.”

The new caucus comes after what Delozier calls a successful 2017-28 legislative session for criminal justice reform, with bills passing like ‘Clean Slate,’ which allows those with low-level, nonviolent criminal records the opportunity to have their records sealed. 

Delozier says, “We have the employees who want to work, but, they can’t do that, because of a mistake that they made.”

By the end of last week, 32 members had already joined the caucus with the goal of coming together to make change happen. 

Delozier adds, “I believe that we can get some bipartisan support, and we can move some good legislation forward to help our communities.”

The caucus will be chaired over on the Senate side, by Senators Camera Bartolotta and Art Haywood.

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