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FAMM applauds Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee passage of clemency reform amendment
HARRISBURG – Today FAMM thanked the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee for passing a bill to undo a 1990s tough-on-crime constitutional amendment by reforming the clemency process and urged House leadership to bring the bill to a floor vote. House Bill 1410, which was introduced by Speaker Joanna McClinton, would return the threshold for recommending commutations for extreme sentences from a unanimous to majority vote of the Board of Pardons.
“Pennsylvania has the second highest number of people serving life sentences in America, and for too long has offered little hope to anyone who has earned a second chance,” said FAMM Director of State Policy Maria Goellner. “The Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee’s support of this bill is an important step to return Pennsylvania to its history of supporting redemption through clemency. Now the full House of Representatives needs to pass the bill, which would allow deserving candidates a better chance to be reunited with their families and contribute to community safety.”
The bill has garnered support from Lieutenant Governor – and Chair of the Board of Pardons – Austin Davis. At a hearing last month FAMM Senior Policy Director and former juvenile lifer Bryan Widenhouse testified in support of the bill. The Judiciary Committee also heard from Nancy Leichter, a homicide victim’s family member, who supports the bill and improved access to second chances.
Pennsylvania’s laws keep thousands of people in prison for decades with no chance of release, even after they have rehabilitated themselves and pose little to no public safety risk. Expanding access to clemency is an important step toward addressing all of the excessive sentences doled out in Pennsylvania in the era of mass incarceration.
is a national nonpartisan advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice policies that safely reduce incarceration, save taxpayer dollars, and keep families together. Founded in 1991, FAMM has secured bold sentencing and prison reform across the country while elevating the voices of directly impacted individuals and families.