Gov. Wolf, National Advocates Push for a Fairer Probation System

first_img November 18, 2019 Criminal Justice Reform,  Press Release,  Prison Reform Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf was joined by Deputy Secretary of Corrections Christian Stephens and national criminal justice reform advocates today in the Capitol Rotunda to push for commonsense probation reforms that address probation sentences and probation lengths.“Despite recent progress, Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system is still failing in some areas,” Gov. Wolf said. “Probation should assist Pennsylvanians with creating stability in their lives and instead, our excessively long sentences and cumbersome rules are causing Pennsylvanians to lose their jobs, employers are losing much-needed workers, families are losing support systems, and taxpayer money is being wasted on a system that is not improving lives or recidivism rates.”According to the Department of Corrections, one in 35 adults in Pennsylvania is under some form of post-incarceration supervision and that number has increased while the state’s crime rate has decreased. Pennsylvania is one of just eight states where probation can last up to the maximum sentence of an offense.Gov. Wolf encouraged the end of the practice of forcing Pennsylvanians to spend decades jumping through hoops and putting people into jail for minor probation violations like missing an appointment; to institute hard caps on the length of time a person can be on probation; and to find fitting, productive responses, like connecting people to treatment when they fail drug tests.“We have the opportunity to positively change the lives of millions of Pennsylvanians through criminal justice reform,” Gov. Wolf said. “And we already have – through bipartisan initiatives like the Clean Slate Law. I’m having some great discussions with members of the legislature on the best next steps, and I’m optimistic that by working together, we can create a fairer criminal justice system that gets Pennsylvanians back on track to productive, successful lives.”Last year, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections announced its participation in a Safe Streets & Second Chances reentry initiative aimed at reducing recidivism, which aligns with the governor’s criminal justice reform ideals. The DOC has been working with researcher Dr. Carrie Pettus-Davis from Florida State University to provide access to inmates from four state correctional institutions in Western Pennsylvania who were interested in participating in the pilot program.The 5-Key Model used in the Safe Streets & Second Chances model is a departure from some reentry models that are predominantly deficits-focused. This model focuses on the strengths and psychological well-being of formerly incarcerated individuals to ensure they will remain crime-free and contribute positively to society. Research indicates that a focus on strengths and well-being best maximizes public health and public safety.In addition to Dr. Pettus-Davis, Gov. Wolf was joined by Safe Streets & Second Chances Advisory Council Chair Mark Holden, Right on Crime’s John Koufos, Sen. Anthony Williams, Rep. Jordan Harris, and other legislators and criminal justice reform advocates.“We need an effective criminal justice system which protects people, preserves public safety, respects human dignity, and removes barriers to opportunity for people reentering society to have real second chances,” Mark Holden said. “The research of Safe Streets & Second Chances has found that we get better outcomes when we work together for bipartisan solutions to critical problems like housing, employment and probation reform in Pennsylvania. We look forward to working with Governor Wolf, the legislature and all constituencies to ensure that commonsense smart-on-crime and soft-on-taxpayer policy solutions are achieved for the Keystone state.”“Probation reform and smart criminal justice reform consistently lead to safer communities, and we are excited to see bipartisan innovation in Pennsylvania,” said John Koufos. “Our partners look forward to working with the Legislature as they release a probation bill before this session expires that will make Pennsylvania safer and more prosperous. Technical probation violations have been estimated to cost Pennsylvania taxpayers $100 million per year but are not making Pennsylvanians any safer. Pennsylvania is charting a new course by fixing this system, and we thank the legislature and the governor for working together on this critical issue.”“There are positive, commonsense changes that we can make to the probation system to balance the needs of those who have served time and are working to be part of our society again with the needs of our community and victims to be kept safe,” Rep. Sheryl Delozier, legislation co-sponsor, said.“Criminal justice reform is the civil rights issue of our time, and it’s an honor to stand with Governor Wolf whose support is invaluable,” legislation co-sponsor Rep. Jordan Harris said. “Our probation system is broken and rather than helping people get back to leading a productive life, it’s entrapping them like quicksand. I’m confident we can bring about real change for Pennsylvania and I look forward to continuing to work with Representative Sheryl Delozier as well as democrats and republicans across the aisle who recognize that probation reform is necessary to move Pennsylvania forward.”“At the end of the day, our role as elected officials is to make life better for the people of the commonwealth and that means providing more opportunity, less government, and safer neighborhoods,” said Sen. Camera Bartolotta, legislation co-sponsor. “Criminal justice reform helps achieve all three of these goals. That is why I am proud to be a prime sponsor of Senate Bill 14, legislation that will help reform our overly burdensome probation system from one that too often traps people in a cycle of incarceration, to one that offers opportunity and a path to a better life.”“We’ve worked for over a year with partners representing a wide array of ideologies in support of achieving long-overdue reform to our community supervision system,” legislation co-sponsor Sen. Anthony Williams said. “I look forward to continuing that work and getting a bill that ensures equitable and fair probation supervision to Governor Wolf’s desk early next year.” SHARE Email Facebook Twittercenter_img Gov. Wolf, National Advocates Push for a Fairer Probation Systemlast_img read more

Students and panelists discuss the results of the Iowa Caucuses

first_imgAs the road to the White House kicked off in Iowa, students gathered at Tommy’s Place to follow the presidential contenders as they vied for caucus-goers in a live analysis and panel discussion.The event, which featured panelists including former California State Sen. Tony Strickland, former Democratic Assemblywoman Cindy Montañez, USC College Democrats Vice President Nick Germain and second year USC Gould School of Law student and Republican Chase Bakaly, focused on the impact Iowa will have on the race going forward.The discussion, moderated by Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics Director Dan Schnur and Daily Trojan Managing Editor Emma Peplow, began with predictions about what the caucus results would mean for the remainder of primary elections. Strickland predicted that Sen. Ted Cruz had the most at stake in the Republican race, highlighting the importance that Iowa will play in determining each party’s nominee.““If [Cruz] is not successful here, I don’t see how he can pull off the nomination moving forward,” Strickland said. “If he can’t win in Iowa, it will be hard to see where he does win — other than in Texas.”Germain noted that the results of the Democratic race might very well be determined by college-aged students.“We see the establishment behind Clinton and progressives behind Sanders,” Germain said. “It depends how many college kids and high school seniors get out to vote.”As early entrance polls came in showing Sen. Cruz and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leading in Republican and Democratic polls, respectively, the panel discussed the rise of anti-establishment candidates. Strickland attributed the popularity of candidates like Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders to dissatisfaction on both sides of the aisle with regard to how things are done in Washington.“I think the American people want something new,” Strickland said. “If you’re talking to a Democrat, they want someone more progressive. If you’re talking to a Republican, they want someone who is actually going to get things done.”Montañez echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the important role new voters will play in the outcome of the caucus.“The establishment helps determine elections in many different ways,” Montanez said. “The only way we change that is by getting new voters to polling locations.”The panelists discussed what they described as a “civil war” within the Republican party, noting the distinctions between candidates such as Sen. Marco Rubio and Trump. Bakaly noted how Trump’s lead in Iowa could mark a change in the Republican party’s strategy moving forward.“Cruz is running a traditional campaign, but Trump has only been to Iowa a handful of times,” Bakaly said. “We might see that the traditional way Republicans have won Iowa might be over if Trump wins.”Strickland credited Trump’s substantial lead in the Republican party to opponents underestimating his popularity, cautioning Democrats against hoping that the Democratic candidate faces him in the general elections.“I would argue that Donald Trump doesn’t have a Republican brand — he has a Trump brand that is not Republican,” Strickland said. “He has marketed his brand, Trump, as success.”Looking forward to New Hampshire, the panel made predictions regarding what they think the parties will focus on going forward.“From the Republican side in New Hampshire, it’s important to focus on if Marco Rubio can maintain the momentum,” Peplow said. “From the Democratic side, I’d be interested to see if Bernie Sanders can poll as closely to Hillary Clinton and keep up the grassroots support.”Of the approximately 80 students in attendance, some said they had already decided who they will vote for. Petra Reyes, a sophomore majoring in political science who said she will vote for Sen. Sanders in the primary, said Sanders has the most to gain from the Iowa caucus .“I think [Sanders] has a lot to gain if he wins Iowa, similarly to how Barack Obama won Iowa in 2008,” Reyes said. “It propelled him forward throughout the rest of the primaries.”Luke Phillips, a senior majoring in international relations who has decided to vote for Sen. Marco Rubio in the primary, said he was not surprised by the early poll outcomes.“The fact that Marco is trailing at third doesn’t surprise me at all,” Phillips said. “I don’t think the winners in the primaries are going to be the thing that determines who advances to the general election.”last_img read more