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Recent Homicides by Pennsylvania Parolees Could Lead to Systemic Changes

Over the first half of the summer, six homicides were allegedly committed by five different parolees in the state of Pennsylvania. Victims included a police officer and a pair of children. Now, law enforcement and state officials are investigating whether changes to the state’s parole system are needed.

County prosecutors and the state corrections officers’ union called for the state to review its parole practices. The president of the corrections officers’ union added that parole is “too automatic” in Pennsylvania, and that those in charge of making parole decisions are not doing enough research into an inmate’s history of violence.

Recent parole overhauls

These incidents actually come after the state made significant changes to the parole system as a means of lowering the prison population. The result was a large growth in the number of parolees. Parole agents claim the changes removed some of their discretion with regard to their ability to take possibly dangerous parolees out of public life.

The Department of Corrections now oversees parole agents in addition to the state’s prisons, but the decision to release someone on parole is left up to the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole in most cases There were 6,526 people under parole supervision who were arrested in Pennsylvania in 2018, representing about 16 percent of the total number of people on parole in the state. Most of those arrests were for non-violent crimes, but 93 were for murder. Complete numbers for 2019 are not yet available.

With homicides continuing to happen while people are on parole, it is not out of the question that the state could make some further adjustments to its parole system.

To learn more about your rights and responsibilities while on parole, speak with dedicated Reading criminal defense attorney David R. Eshelman.


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