ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
Under current law, people are entitled to parole consideration once a year, except for those convicted of murder of an unborn child or law enforcement officer, which the parole board may elect to hear every five years. HB 1538 (PN 3666) would amend this statute to allow the Parole Board to decline to hear the parole application of people convicted of one of 13 offenses (including kidnapping, trafficking, sex offenses, third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and those required to register under the Sexual Offender Registration Act) for three years after denying parole. The bill also clarifies that testimony before the Parole Board is conducted in person.
HB 1538 permits the Parole Board to delay parole consideration based not on the merits of an individual’s application, but on offense type. By doing so, it permits arbitrary and excessive punishment, resulting in longer prison stays and needless squandering of corrections resources with no discernible benefit to public safety.