Tripp Laino, 202-999-4270
Families, advocacy groups rally to reform probation in Pennsylvania
FAMM, ACLU of Pennsylvania, Americans for Prosperity-Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Foundation, Justice Action Network, and REFORM Alliance join forces to rally for change
Harrisburg – Pennsylvania’s probation system is in serious need of reform.
That’s why FAMM, ACLU of Pennsylvania, Americans for Prosperity-Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Foundation, Justice Action Network, REFORM Alliance, and nearly a dozen other groups representing views across the political spectrum are joining forces for a rally in the Capitol at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 24.
With nearly 300,000 people under community supervision in Pennsylvania, families and advocates are urging lawmakers to support HB 1555 and SB 14, which would make probation sentences more likely to help people stay crime-free and become productive citizens. Pennsylvania’s lengthy probation terms make it difficult for people to participate in everyday family life, find and keep jobs, relocate when new opportunities arise, and stay out of jail or prison. Minor, technical violations of probation conditions can put people behind bars for weeks, months, or even years. See stories of people affected by these policies here.
FAMM Director of State Policy for Pennsylvania, Celeste Trusty:
“People under community supervision have to walk on eggshells – a small mistake like missing a meeting can send a person to prison or jail and throw a family into disarray. This lasts for years, sometimes even decades. Pennsylvania’s legislature currently has the opportunity to limit probation terms and provide incentives for compliance so that individuals and their families can move on with their lives. There is bipartisan support for probation reform, and it should win a bipartisan vote this year.”
Americans for Prosperity-PA State Director, Ashley Klingensmith:
“Too often, Pennsylvania’s probation system sets up individuals for failure, not success. The community supervision period could be an opportunity to help citizens get back on their feet, but too often it traps people in a cycle of recidivism. This wastes taxpayer money, strains law enforcement resources, and makes it harder for returning citizens to pursue a life of fulfillment. Clean Slate was only the beginning, and we look forward to working with this broad coalition to advance meaningful reforms that make it easier for citizens to grow as contributing members of society.”
ACLU of Pennsylvania Executive Director, Reggie Shuford:
“Probation is one of the most significant drivers of mass incarceration in Pennsylvania. With virtually no limit to probation terms across the Commonwealth, far too many Pennsylvanians are subject to intrusive government surveillance and the everyday risk that they might get caught up in a technical violation of their probation and end up in jail for an act that would not be considered a crime for someone not on probation. SB 14 would go a long way towards reforming Pennsylvania’s broken probation system, a system that disproportionately impacts people of color. We will continue to vigorously advocate this bill’s passage.”
Commonwealth Foundation Vice President, Stephen Bloom:
“Pennsylvania’s corrections system is too often a revolving door. One-third of Pennsylvania’s prison population consists of individuals who violated their probation or parole, many due to minor technical violations during long probation terms. This wastes scarce resources and must change. To protect public safety and ensure our corrections and probation systems have the resources necessary to deal with the worst offenders, we must reduce long probation terms for low-risk folks and reward good behavior. Then we’ll help people become good citizens and neighbors again, not recurring prisoners.”
Justice Action Network Deputy Director, Jenna Moll:
“The time for action is now. With strong bipartisan consensus behind them, Pennsylvania’s policymakers have the chance to change hundreds of thousands of people’s lives for the better by passing data-driven and researched-based probation reforms. These reforms can significantly reduce both crime and taxpayer costs, all while lifting up individuals and families and putting them on the path to prosperity. We commend Representatives Sheryl Delozier and Jordan Harris, and Senators Camera Bartolotta and Anthony Williams, for working across the aisle to develop this package of reforms to improve public safety and justice system outcomes in Pennsylvania.”
REFORM Alliance CEO, Van Jones:
“Whether you’re conservative or liberal, black or white, wealthy or working three jobs to get by, we can all agree on one thing: the probation system in Pennsylvania is broken, and it’s time for us to come together in the fight to fix it. Far too many people are being sent back to prison – not for committing a new crimes – but because of minor technical violations like being late to meetings or crossing county lines without asking their probation officers for permission. We need to reform Pennsylvania probation laws so the system stops destroying lives and families for reasons that make no sense.”
FAMM is a national nonpartisan advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice policies that safeguard taxpayer dollars and keep our communities safe. Founded in 1991, FAMM is helping transform America’s criminal justice system by uniting the voices of impacted families and individuals and elevating the issues all across the country.
Americans for Prosperity-Pennsylvania
Through broad-based grassroots outreach, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is driving long-term solutions to the country’s biggest problems. AFP activists engage friends and neighbors on key issues and encourage them to take an active role in building a culture of mutual benefit, where people succeed by helping one another. AFP recruits and unites Pennsylvanians behind a common goal of advancing policies that will help people improve their lives.
ACLU of Pennsylvania
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization dedicated to defending and expanding individual rights and personal freedoms throughout the entire commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Through advocacy, public education, and litigation, our staff and volunteers work to preserve and enhance liberties grounded in the United States and Pennsylvania constitutions and civil rights laws. Among those liberties are freedoms of speech, religion and association; the right to petition the government; separation of church and state; the right to privacy; reproductive freedom; due process of law; the rights of the accused; and the right to equal treatment under the law.
The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.
Justice Action Network
The Justice Action Network is the first and largest 501(c)(4) organization in the country to bring together progressive and conservative partners and collaborate with law enforcement, business, civil rights, victims’ rights, and faith-based groups to make our justice system more effective and cost-efficient. The Justice Action Network employs federal and state-specific lobbying, public advocacy, and public education efforts to pass sweeping criminal justice reforms.
The REFORM Alliance is committed to advancing criminal justice reform and eradicating laws and policies that perpetuate injustice in the United States. To achieve that objective, the REFORM Alliance will strive to pass probation bills at the state level, use media to amplify the need for comprehensive reform and build an inclusive, bi-partisan alliance of leaders from the business, entertainment, sports and community industries who share a cohesive vision for ambitiously and efficiently transforming the criminal justice system.