Senate Committee Passes Baker, Bartolotta and Williams Bill to Reform PA’s Probation System

HARRISBURG – The Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation sponsored by Sens. Lisa Baker (R-20), Camera Bartolotta (R-46) and Anthony Williams (D-8) that would reform Pennsylvania’s probation system to give people a better pathway out of the criminal justice system.

“We’ve passed laws in recent years offering individuals a second chance – better enabling them to find a place to live, access education or training if that is needed, and have a fair shot at employment,” Baker said, who chairs the committee. “However, we will not fully realize the benefits of these improvements if we do not eliminate the issues that exist in probation.”

Senate Bill 838 would establish a mandatory probation review conference for probationers, providing criteria for when they occur and a presumption that probation will be terminated unless the individual does not qualify. It would also allow the review conference to occur earlier based on the good conduct of defendants by achieving certain educational, employment or other goals. A provision to allow for the waiving of the mandatory review conference in cases where all stakeholders agree it is unnecessary is also included.

“Our bill is designed to implement greater fairness, eliminate excessive incarceration, give individuals a more reliable second chance to get their lives right and offer taxpayers a break from ever-rising state correctional costs,” Bartolotta said.

Senate Bill 838 now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

“My colleagues and I continuously worked, day after day, to get us to this point today. I appreciate the hard work of everyone involved. I am thrilled for the thousands of Pennsylvanians on probation who will see a positive change once this bill becomes law,” Williams said.

Click here to view the committee meeting.

Cara Laudenslager (Baker)
Katrina Hanna (Bartolotta)
Sabrina Hall (Williams)

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