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Pennsylvania Lawmaker Wants to End Life Without Parole Sentences

A legislator in Pennsylvania has kicked off an initiative to end life without parole prison sentences. If he is successful, Pennsylvania would be the very first state to remove life without parole as a possibility for any crime.

Senate Bill 942 was introduced by Sen. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) in October. A rally for the bill took place Tuesday, March 27, in Harrisburg. Under the proposed bill, people who were sentenced to life in prison would be eligible for parole after 15 years.

According to Street, the measure makes sense from both a punitive and fiscal standpoint. The purpose of the criminal justice system, he argues, is to rehabilitate people while also keeping the general public safe. He argues that incarcerating people beyond the point at which they are rehabilitated is a prohibitive expense the state cannot afford any longer.

Working to promote the bill

Street has made a variety of public appearances to promote and garner support for the bill. He has said the bill does not guarantee parole to anyone given a life sentence, but at least gives individuals the possibility of securing parole through more hearings. Victims of the crimes committed by the offenders in question will also be able to speak at parole board hearings.

Street’s efforts come after a 2012 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court stating that life without parole sentences for minors are unconstitutional. Pennsylvania is one of 20 states that have banned such sentences for juveniles.

To learn more about how this bill could affect criminal cases of all types moving forward, consult skilled Reading criminal defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.


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