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2019 Was a Big Year for Criminal Justice Reform in Pennsylvania

The last year saw some landmark legislation and major changes criminal justice system to the Pennsylvania criminal justice system, many of which were long overdue.

Here is just a quick overview of some major changes to the state’s criminal laws that came in 2019 that will have far-reaching effects for many years to come.

Justice Reinvestment

Governor Tom Wolf signed a package of Justice Reinvestment bills into law in mid-December. The bills will create the County Adult Probation and Parole Advisory Committee, and create a more streamlined sentencing system that will encourage judges to sentence nonviolent offenders with drug use history into treatment programs rather than prison.

The primary goal of this package was to cut down the inmate population of the state over the next five years, saving more than $45 million in the process. That money will be reinvested into county probation offices.

Bill package to address victims of child sexual abuse

Another package of bills signed into law by Wolf in November offers more protections to victims of childhood sexual abuse. These bills were developed after a grand jury investigated Catholic clergy in the state.

House Bill 962 eliminates criminal statutes of limitations for childhood sexual abuse, and gives victims more time to file civil claims. House Bill 1051 creates stricter penalties for mandatory reporters who did not report suspected child abuse, and another bill exempts reports to law enforcement from nondisclosure contracts.

The state is continuing to investigate additional changes to criminal law in the state, which will have significant effects on how certain types of criminal cases are interpreted. To stay abreast of these changes and how they could affect your case, contact experienced Reading, PA criminal defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.


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