FAMM testifies at Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee hearing on clemency reform amendment

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FAMM testifies at Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee hearing on clemency reform amendment

HARRISBURG – FAMM Senior Policy Associate Bryan Widenhouse is testifying live today at the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee’s hearing about Speaker Joanna McClinton’s constitutional amendment to the clemency process. House Bill 1410 would return the Board of Pardons threshold for recommending commutation in life sentence cases to its historical norm of majority vote, rather than unanimous.

“As someone who benefitted from a second chance, I know better than most how difficult it is to fight through a system that almost seems designed to keep you incarcerated for as long as possible, regardless of rehabilitation,” said Widenhouse. “For decades Pennsylvania’s Board of Pardons never recommended commutation for people with life sentences to the Governor – even in cases where people had demonstrated clear rehabilitation. This bill would solidify the progress made in recent years, and enable more worthy applicants to be reunited with their families. FAMM strongly supports the legislation.”

Earlier this month Lieutenant Governor and Chair of the Board of Pardons Austin Davis, Speaker McClinton, and Widenhouse participated in a news conference at the Capitol announcing the bill. Davis also participated in a virtual panel about commutation hosted by FAMM to discuss the Board’s work and Governor Shapiro’s vision for the office.

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 risk to others. Increasing sentence commutations is an important step toward addressing all of the excessive sentences doled out in Pennsylvania in the era of mass incarceration.


FAMM 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. | | @FAMMFoundation

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