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For Immediate Release
10/25/12



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Greenleaf's Bills Signed into Law on Criminal Justice Reform, Auto Theft Prevention, and Juvenile Justice

Today at a bill signing ceremony in Harrisburg, Governor Tom Corbett signed into law three of Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf's bills.  SB 100 is aimed at reforming sentencing practices for non-violent offenders, SB 86 will assist law enforcement in prosecuting auto theft, and SB 850 enacts juvenile justice reforms.

Criminal Justice Reform Act:

The Criminal Justice Reform Act, SB 100, is aimed at enhancing Pennsylvania's Corrections system to better treat non-violent offenders and reduce recidivism.  The law enacts a variety of evidence based practices that have been highly successful in other states to improve public safety and save taxpayer money spent on prisons.  The Criminal Justice Reform Act is estimated to save $253 million over the first five years. 

Senator Greenleaf said, "Pennsylvania's inmate population dramatically increased over the past few decades as many non-violent offenders were sent to state prisons.  We need hold offenders accountable, but also ensure that former offenders have a chance for a crime-free life.  Rehabilitated non-violent offenders mean great costs savings to taxpayers."

The law reforms the state's probation and parole system to reduce recidivism and expand the use of alternative sentencing for non-violent offenders.  Among its many reforms, the new law calls for a comprehensive community re-entry program that helps former inmates make the best use of their skills in seeking employment.  It also authorizes county courts to create a program to enforce probation violations by imposing "swift, predictable, immediate and measured sanctions."  Low-level offenders will be held accountable at the county level, reducing the state prison population.

"Because of high costs, Corrections spending threatens many other areas of government and cannot simply be cut, but requires policy changes to save money," said the Senator.

Today's signing of SB 100 was ceremonial in order to highlight the legislation as part of a package that includes recently passed HB 135 which will reinvest savings from SB 100 into other criminal justice programs to reduce recidivism and assist local police.  HB 135 was essential to maximizing the cost savings potential of SB 100.

Auto Theft Prevention:

SB 86 expands the current Motor Vehicle Chop Shop Act to assist law enforcement to prosecute the ever evolving crime of auto theft.

"The crime of auto theft has become increasingly complex, and auto thieves have become more organized," said Senator Greenleaf. "Pennsylvania's existing laws need to be amended to help prosecutors charge someone with auto theft."

SB 86 expands the Motor Vehicle Chop Shop Act to include "trailers" and "semitrailers" to help law enforcement charging thieves who steal trailers.

Law enforcement has found that the current law is vague when attempting to charge someone with the crimes of profiting from stolen vehicle activity. SB 86 clarifies the offense of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity to specifically include stolen or illicitly obtained property.

The current law fails to establish any limits on time for police inspections of suspected "chop shops". The bill allows for inspections during a shop's normal business hours or any other time in which work is being done and also allows for the search of any vehicles or parts that are subject to the record keeping requirements of the law.

The law will go into effect in 60 days.

Juvenile Justice Reform:

SB 850 makes important reforms to Pennsylvania's juvenile justice system to help ensure that juvenile offenders are treated fairly and that appropriate punishments are focused on rehabilitation.

Senator Greenleaf said, "SB 850 is the Legislature's final response to the Luzerne County 'Kids for Cash' scandal.  Particularly, ensuring the use of least restrictive punishments for juveniles will help prevent judicial abuse in the future."

The bill specifies that the least restrictive punishments should always be used in the sentencing of juveniles.  The law also ensures that juveniles charged with a summary offense being tried before a magisterial district judge would receive the same protections they would in juvenile court.  The process of expunging juvenile records will be streamlined.

The legislation was amended in the House to comply with the recent U.S. Supreme Court Ruling that mandatory sentencing of juveniles to life without parole is unconstitutional.
 

CONTACT:

Aaron Zappia
717-787-6599

 

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